The Star-Herald

Kayty’s story

Editor’s note: Recovery Aroostook has celebrated National Recovery Month by sharing stories of local people and their recovery journeys. The 2021 theme was “Recovery is for Everyone: Every Person, Every Family, Every Community.” We thank you for reading.

Don’t get me wrong. My childhood was good. I had both parents until I was 12ish. They made decent money. Loved us and each other. My siblings and I were in sports, had a nice house, vehicles and loving pets. My parents didn’t drink or do drugs. For me, this wasn’t a moral failing, nor was it a hereditary misfortune. I was just wired a little different.

I was young when I started drinking. I had tried cocaine here and there but didn’t know love until I tried heroin. For five years I beat the system. I stole to support my habit until I realized that just wasn’t enough money and transitioned into exotic dancing. 

I loved it! I worked hard, made excellent money and put it straight into my bloodstream. I lived a life I thought people dreamed of. But as with all substances, this was not going to end well. In 2015 I was 25 with two kids, homeless, unemployed, with multiple criminal charges and a Child Protective Services case backed by that first bad boy I met.

I called my mother and asked if she would take me to rehab. She picked me, her only daughter, up at the back door of a strip club and sat with me through the entire intake process. The following Monday, at a CPS court appearance, the cops and court offered me a choice: two years in prison and lose my children or keep my children and go to rehab. Rehab it was.

Four months later I transitioned from rehab to homelessness, to an apartment, then eventually back home to Maine. For four beautiful years, I fought hard. Then one night, after a physical altercation with an abusive partner, a broken window, a ton of tears, and a police report to CPS, my children were removed from my care.

It was all too much for me at the time. I went to visit my oldest daughter. My substance use disorder took over and I shot heroin. This time, though, it wasn’t heroin. It was Fentanyl. I lost consciousness, hit the floor, and died. Right there, in front of my daughter, I died. 

My daughter saved my life that day. My 5-year-old daughter and Narcan. That was the day I looked at my recovery. I asked myself the question “Why, after four years of winning the fight against opioid use disorder, did this happen?”   

The answer: In addition to a system that didn’t understand, I didn’t have a community. A community of people who appreciated how hard someone must work to beat this disorder. A community that smiled at me “even though,” or a community that told me they were proud of me. A community who told me I was capable. 

I finally found that community. Aroostook County Action Program loved me back to life. I found Aroostook Mental Health Service’s Roads to Recovery Community Center, which provided me with a safe place — a Thursday morning Narcotics Anonymous meeting that, to this day, is still a driving force in my recovery. The most powerful connection I have today is my connection with Maine Recovery Advocacy Project, a family of folks who love fiercely and without condition.

Today, I can testify on behalf of recovery-friendly legislation. I started my own recovery-focused organization that offers recovery coaching and peer support groups at the Caribou Public Library. I have been able to partner with organizations that help bring harm reduction to our community. We support and love those in recovery; more importantly, we love people who struggle with substance use disorder fiercely and without condition, as I was.

I support recovery of any and every pathway and hold zero judgement on how a person chooses to live, provided they try to be a little bit better every day. It is because of my recovery that I can sit on the board of directors of ACAP, represent Maine State Parent Ambassadors, participate in committees and counsels. And my voice matters. 

Because of my recovery I am capable of living my life in a way that offers people what I couldn’t find: love, support, connection and acceptance.

Today I am a waitress, nonprofit director, a present and ever-improving mother, and I have never been happier. The life I live today is a life worth living. I have passion, ability, honesty, and a desire to grow and be better. 

I’m Kayty, and I’m a mother whose family unit is living together in long-term recovery. 

Kayty Robbins is the director of Rise and Grind Recovery. If you or a loved one would like more information on recovery services, please contact her at

To find out more about the pathways to recovery, and supports available for individuals and family members, find Recovery Aroostook on Facebook @roads2recoverycommunitycenter @recoveryaroostook @carlcenter or email

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