Miss USA, IU community talk about substance addiction


Miss USA 2006 Tara Conner, IU alum Kristen Martin, IU student Jake Desmond and Director of OASIS Jackie Daniels all took turns telling their stories of addiction during OASIS' kickoff of National Recovery Month on Tuesday evening. Katelyn Rowe and Katelyn Rowe Buy Photos

Jackie Daniels became addicted to alcohol and drugs during her freshman year at IU. Since then, she has battled her addiction and has been in recovery since 
December of 2000.

Now, as OASIS director, Daniels is helping students battle their own addictions.

Daniels shared the story of her addiction and recovery Tuesday night in the Indiana Memorial Union’s Whittenberger Auditorium as part of OASIS’ kickoff of 
National Recovery Month.

Daniels said the kickoff was meant to celebrate National Recovery Month, a national observance of mental health and addiction recovery awareness, but was also meant to expose services available to students struggling with addiction or recovery, including a new student group, Students in Recovery-Bloomington.

After viewing the documentary “The Anonymous People,” which educates viewers about the more than 23 million Americans living in long-term recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs, attendees listened to Tara Conner, Miss USA 2006; IU graduate Kristen Martin; IU student Jacob Desmond; and Daniels. All of the speakers shared stories about their 
addictions and recoveries.

Conner said she became an advocate for addiction recovery after she was publicly scorned for struggling with addiction.

“I had so many people saying to me, ‘Well, do you think you’ve tarnished the crown?’” she said. “And I just remember having that feeling ... that, ‘Holy crap, someone’s listening to this right now and you’re shaming them, you’re shaming them for being able to step forward and get the gift (of recovery) that I was just given.’”

Martin started drinking and using drugs at the age of 11 and has been in recovery since the age of 21. Martin said she felt lost when she looked for help.

“No one I knew was sober,” she said. “I just thought you lived this way and you die this way ... And no one knew where to send me or what to do with me.”

Martin and Desmond assisted Daniels in forming Students in Recovery-
Bloomington last semester.

Students in Recovery-Bloomington, established in spring 2015, intends to provide a safe and supportive group for students in 

“It’s a way to organize the students in recovery so they have peer support and social outlets, but also an organized way to raise funds and advocate for the services the students in recovery need on campus,” Daniels said, adding that the group recently organized a coffee crawl in place of the usual bar crawl.

Daniels said she wants people to be able to talk about their addiction or 
recovery so people struggling with these things, as well as their family members and friends, don’t feel so alone.

“I’m trying to educate people about students in recovery — what they look like, who they are, what their needs are,” she said. “And we’re making progress ... I really believe it affects all of us.”

Daniels said in addition to Student in Recovery-Bloomington, students struggling with addiction or recovery can find support at IU’s Counseling and Psychological Services and OASIS, which specializes in drug and alcohol education, 
prevention and intervention.

“Over the next year, we hope to map out our campus resources for students in recovery,” she said. Daniels also said she hopes to find a dedicated space for Students in Recovery to meet, find help and arrange support groups.

Daniels said within the next five to 10 years, she also hopes to make sober housing available on campus.

Desmond started drinking and using drugs at the age of 12 or 13, he said, and has been in recovery since the age of 19.

“He actually was pretty monumental in getting this whole thing started,” Daniels said. “I had always had the desire to do it because I got sober as an IU student but just had no sober students to provide the services to.”

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