Lacy: ‘Treatment was never going to be enough’

Leo Costello

Jelissa Burns, FIXED Writer

Pain and addiction

“When my first daughter was 2, I got addicted to opioids. I had never done them before, but then I broke a bone in my foot and I got a kidney infection in the same three-month span. I was prescribed Vicodin twice by my doctor, and by the time I was finished with my second prescription, I was addicted and I knew it.


“This was the good feeling I was searching for — the warm, fuzzy, safe feeling. I had this thing that was my best friend, my boyfriend, all that stuff that people say that it was. Slowly, I stopped caring about everything else. That progressed really fast. Within a year, I was doing handfuls of pain pills. It got very expensive. I was still working at the same job, and I don’t know how I kept that job. I kept that job for three years. And as soon as I got a promotion, that same month I ended up quitting.

“I was starting to get dope sick, and sometimes I couldn’t get my drugs, so I wasn’t going to get up and go to work. I couldn’t do that — I couldn’t take care of my kid — it was becoming a really scary thing. I would take any pain pill, or I would do Suboxone if I couldn’t find any pain pills. I had gotten into a relationship with this guy. He was a drug dealer, and he would sell crack, and he was very controlling of me. He basically cut me off from everybody I would buy drugs from. He wanted to get my drugs for me all the time so I wouldn’t speak to other men. He didn’t want me out looking for drugs. So I was like, ‘OK, well then you’re gonna get my drugs for me.’ And he liked that role.

“I didn’t realize how much power he had over me until he was arrested and went to jail. I was left in a position where I couldn’t get my drugs. Mostly, I didn’t have any money. I just depended on him. I quit my job, I was living on unemployment, I wasn’t functioning very well in life. I couldn’t pay any of my bills, but drugs came first before everything.”

Life in recovery

“While I was in jail I asked if I could go to Nova because a lot of people that I know that have been successful in recovery started there. They said yes but they also gave me Drug Court. Drug Court must have been exactly what I needed.

FIXED photos by UW Oshkosh alumnus Michael Cooney and FIXED participants — Lacy Lacy appears in Winnebago County Drug Court before Circuit Court Judge Karen Seifert. She was addicted to opioids since her daughter was 2 years old.

“Treatment was never going to be enough. I had been going to treatment for 15 years at that point. I did behavioral health three times from the time I was 14 to 16. I did outpatient. I did my first inpatient at Winnebago Mental Health for a dual diagnosis when I was 17. I’ve been institutionalized and have been in jail a bunch of times. I could regurgitate recovery talk, but I had never been taught how to live my life without drugs and alcohol and I was the type of person that couldn’t do it without a ton of support and accountability, and that’s what Drug Court gave me. So looking back, that’s exactly what I needed and I’m glad it exists for people like me.

“Drug Court taught me recovery, but it also held me accountable, and for once the consequences started to matter to me. Because of all the work that I was doing, I was receiving so many gifts back into my life — relationships with my daughters, my parents, my family — once I started getting all of those I started caring about going back to prison. I started having a self-worth. Before, it never really bothered me because I didn’t care about myself or anybody else. I cared about my kids. It made me sad, but I never put anyone above drugs, so Drug Court changed everything for me. Now, I’ve just been in Drug Court for a couple years and living this way for so long, I don’t even look at it that way anymore. I’m so far away from that and I know it. I’m just doing it because I want to and I want to keep everything I have and I want to be able to give it to other people. The consequences aren’t what keep me sober now. I’ve had the support so long that this is just how I live my life. It’s important for addicts to make it a lifestyle.”

Lacy appears in Drug Court.

Lacy lives in Oshkosh and is a young mother with three daughters. Lacy’s struggle with addiction began as a preteen, but she is now on the road to recovery. She works as a caregiver for adults with developmental disabilities. For more information about Nova Counseling Services, Inc., please visit

The FIXED Storytelling Project was to run in the Advance-Titan last spring and conclude with an event in May, but it was canceled due to the pandemic. Instead, the Advance-Titan is running stories from the project throughout October, which is recognized as National Substance Abuse Prevention Month.