The drunk driver crossed the line and changed Kristal Field’s life forever. She was seriously injured and her best friend was killed. She required opiates for pain relief and struggled for the next ten years, crossing her own line at some point from taking opiates for pain management into full-blown abuse. Kristal lost herself in a cycle of misusing opiates and her life became focused on feeding the addiction. It all came to an end with her 2013 arrest for possession of narcotics. That’s when the rebuild started.
Because it was her first arrest, Kristal was put through a diversionary program that included being sent to Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings. Nobody mentioned other options like SMART. Kristal says she had trouble with the idea of a “higher power” that is integral to 12-step recovery like NA, but she figured out how to stick around, “The way I chose to think about [higher power] is that it was the fellowship, it was the group, it was the sharing of information…hearing other people’s stories, that is so powerful in itself.” This strategy kept her life moving in a positive direction, even as she remained convinced that she did have power over some things and there were things she could control.
One example was her decision to pursue a college degree, and that led her directly to investigating SMART for a class assignment. It clicked, “I absolutely just loved everything about it…it resonated so much with me and was also in alignment with the things I was doing in school.” Kristal started attending meetings and found it personally valuable as she juggled working full-time, going to school, being a mom, and being in a relationship. She also attended Family & Friends meetings, which she credits as helping mitigate her household’s COVID pandemic stress.
The next powerful decision she made was to become a SMART meeting facilitator. As a self-identified introvert, Kristal says stepping into a facilitation role was definitely out of her comfort zone, but she did it anyway and was rewarded, “Going through the facilitator training was life-changing, it made so much sense and it really made it all come together for me in my own recovery.”
Now Kristal looks ahead and realizes that with her Human Services and Health Administration degrees, combined with her SMART Facilitator training, the sky is the limit. “My ultimate dream would be to open my own recovery house and if I could run SMART meetings all day every day that would be great!” She says watching participants grow, even through tough times, is rewarding. Kristal particularly relates to the women members of her group learning how to advocate for themselves and use SMART tools to develop the strength to do so. She sees it happen regularly.
Ultimately, Kristal just wants to see SMART grow as much as possible, and help individuals before it’s too late. She has lost friends to Opiate Use Disorder, but now she is part of the solution, “I may not be able to bring my friends back but I can still try and influence the ones who are still here.”
Thank you for sharing your story. I appreciate the encouragement and really like your idea of opening your own recovery house to run SMART meetings. Awesome!
Great story Kristal!
Sounds like you’re a great facilitator coupled with your education and first-hand experiences with your DOC.
I’ve been sober for 20 months now thanks to the help of SMART.
We are so happy to read this it helps a lot of people brings us strength when we are weak and makes us smart when we make dumb choices
So proud of you! What a great inspiration you are! Biggest hugs of love and support!
I went to an NA meeting three times because a mate had to go and didn’t want to be alone. I strongly disliked the meetings.
I did SMART in prison and many other courses about drug abuse.SMART was by far the best group I attended .If you start your own please save me a place
Great story I can relate a lot to it. Thanks for sharing Kristal!
Check out Above and Beyond in Chicago which is led by Smart Board member Dan Hostetler for an example of a type of recovery house.
DOCTOR JONES! DOCTOR JONES!!!! You’re an inspiration. I’ve had the privilege of watching you evolve over time and it’s quite amazing. Glad to call you part of my recovery community.