Turnaround profiles: Kandice Spencer

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Kandice Spencer

Chasing the thrill has lost its attraction. Kandice now prefers family time.

Excerpted from “Mothers on Meth” | by Eric Schulzke | Deseret News | May 24, 2013

LAST SUMMER Kandice Spencer went to Southern California with her two boys and their dad, Waymon. The beach was chilly, Disneyland was fun, but the big hit for the boys, ages 8 and 9, was Universal Studios. On the surface it was a routine family vacation, but things were not always so routine for this family. Just six years ago, Kandice, now 42, was hooked on meth, writing bad checks and losing custody of her children. Waymon was also dealing and using, and the kids were headed for foster care.

EARLY ON, Kandice actually thought the drug was helping her be a better mom. “Initially it makes you feel like you’re more effective, only because it gives you more energy. You don’t go through the same cycle going to work, coming home, cleaning house and feeling tired. You feel like you have a lot more energy to get things done.”

KANDICE WAS RAISED in Layton, Utah, in a middle-class family. Her dad was a civilian contractor at Hill Air Force Base, her mom an IRS employee. She graduated from Arizona State University in computer information systems. After college she made some “bad choices,” as she puts it. She got hooked on crack cocaine on a whim and it immediately took over her life. Within one month she lost her job and her house. Her family intervened, and rehab seemed to do the trick, until a few years later she began using meth.

Crack & back (7:28)

How Kandice destroyed her life with meth, and then saved it with rehab.

Bad decision (4:58)

Kandice celbrates sobriety with a meth bash. Really. Tailspin follows.

Family time (4:17)

Kandice’s idea of good time now is spending time with the three men in her life: her two boys and their dad.

IT WASN’T UNTIL the law stepped in and threatened to take away her children that Kandice finally woke up. Since leaving jail in 2007, she paid off $30,000 in debt, bought a house, and reunited with her children’s father.

KANDICE NOW speaks the language of recovery with the fluency of a native. She sprinkles her comments with “I decided” and “I made choices.” “One thing I have learned is no one cares what your intentions are,” she said. “They care only about your actions.”

SOBRIETY IS REWARDING, Kandice said, but it’s not always fun. “One day I woke up and realized that going to work, taking care of the kids, paying bills and dealing with everyday life isn’t always so bliss and contains a certain amount of boredom.”

HER AIM NOW is to “create memories that will last a lifetime and that I want to remember — Disneyland, playing with the boys’ dogs, coaching their basketball team, and snuggling up with them on a Friday evening for family night with a movie.”

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