(KX News) — For many on the road to recovery, the journey is hard enough, let alone sharing their story with many people. That goes double for reporting on other addiction and recovery stories.
“I was this off-the-grid hippie who hated media. I did not want to be a reporter at that time in my life,” Nicci Johnson said.
But life doesn’t always go as planned, as Nicci Johnson is now a reporter for KX News and has been so since January 2019. The road she’s traveled to get to her job and to her sobriety has been a long one. A Texas native, Johnson, a former drug and alcohol addict was, like so many other addicts, raised by addicts.
“We moved to Wyoming and then we moved to Beulah, North Dakota. And that’s where I started going to pre-school. My mom met her husband in Alcoholic’s Anonymous, because, when I was three, she actually tried killing herself. And so, we were placed in foster care,” Johnson said.
After years of being on the go, Johnson would eventually settle in Bismarck and graduate from Century High School. It was before then, however, she had her first taste of what she found at the time to be irresistible.
“It was in seventh grade and, by this time in my life, I was just wanting to be known. I remember skipping shop class to go to a friend’s house and I had a Coors Light and some peppermint schnapps and I felt so good,” Johnson said.
But it wouldn’t stop there. Johnson went on to do marijuana, meth and other substances.
“Any time I tried a new substance, it was like: I’m seen, I matter, I can do anything and what everybody else thinks about me doesn’t matter,” Johnson said.
She said part of the inspiration to turn to drugs and alcohol was her parent’s and siblings’ actions and addictions.
“They were getting in trouble and so I thought maybe I need to get in trouble to get noticed,” Johnson said.
Her downward spiral continued, after multiple suicide attempts, arrests, and even admission into a psychiatric ward. Nothing, it seemed, could stop Johnson’s erratic behavior. Finally, after receiving a DUI in 2012, her ways would come to a screeching halt.
“I was ashamed, I was embarrassed and I just knew that something had to change,” Johnson said.
Johnson was court-ordered to go to treatment, which she said was a catalyst to her recovery. But things didn’t get easy all at once. Johnson found herself couch surfing, sleeping on floors until she decided to move to a sober living home.
“I stayed there for a year and it was very structured and balanced and it was exactly what I needed to learn how to live life,” Johnson said.
After her time at one sober living home, Johnson would go on to be a manager of a different one. She would then move on to graduate college and then work in radio. Though she attributed a lot of her recovery to hard work and experts in their field, Johnson said there was still something missing.
“I figured if I tried faith maybe that would help,” Johnson said.
And it has. Johnson’s recovery story has inspired many people in her life, like her friend Keshia Hoffer, who also received a DUI. She went through a 12-step program after getting out of jail.
“We immediately connected back up and she kind of took me under her wing and showed me the ropes of recovery,” Hoffer said. “She’s kind of a really good role model and somebody to aspire towards and to be.”
And now, after all the ups and downs, Johnson said being able to tell other people’s stories of addiction and recovery is a great gift.
“When they are able to tell their story and their light switch comes on for them, that’s what I live for,” Johnson said.
Johnson’s story is one of so many stories in our area. You’ll hear more stories like hers next Tuesday, November 12 during Recovery Reinvented at the Bismarck Event Center. We will be bringing you stories from there live throughout the day.