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Apr 29, 2016 10:45 AM

Recovery Lasts a Lifetime: NH mom's struggle with addiction leads to new life as counselor

MANCHESTER — In our continuing coverage of the heroin and opioid crisis, NH1 News is airing a series of stories of recovery and hope.

"Alcoholics and addicts are some of the most talented, intellectual people that I've ever met," Stephanie McNeill said "They have all this potential and they just don't see it."

When she was young, Stephanie said partying was her reward after working and caring for her daughter. But eventually, after her daughter's father committed suicide, she found herself masking the pain with substances.

One day her mother's suspicions revealed that Stephanie had a dark secret.

"She went through my purse and she found paraphernalia." Stephanie said. "I got back in the car and she was just so angry at me and and she told me, 'If you want to keep living the way that you're living you can, but you're not going to do it with your daughter.'"

She agreed to go to treatment, but after a few days Stephanie checked herself out. That Mother's Day she was denied a visitation with her daughter. Her family asked her "do you think you're a positive influence in her life? Do you want her to end up like you?" Suddenly, it clicked. She got clean and immersed herself in the recovery community.

Today, she's in school to be a licensed drug and alcohol counselor. She also works at Angie's Place and Farnum Center, the two places that helped her reach sobriety.

"Seeing how people can change their lives is so rewarding, I love it," she said. "There is the discouraging part to it too, where people don't make it and it just kind of drives me more."

She has regular visits with her daughter and doesn't pass up the opportunity to teach her about the effects of drugs and alcohol.

"I think it does bring inspiration and hope that you can make it on the other side and that you can find fun in sobriety. You can be the person that you were supposed to be."

Colleen Shaughnessy is a multimedia journalist for NH1 News. You can email her at and follow her on Twitter, @ColleenNH1.

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