The step Chelsea took that changed her life

Alcohol was leading Chelsea Harper toward unhappiness and despair. A fateful step into Lakeside helped her set a new course.

Did you know?

In 2004, UHS started construction on a new building for Lakeside Behavioral Health System, which first opened in 1969. Today, the facility provides specialized behavioral health care and addiction treatment for people in search of healing.

This time, Chelsea knew she hit rock bottom.

Desperate, she stood in the parking lot of Lakeside Behavioral Health System.

“Walk inside and do this thing for real or I wasn’t sure how I’d end up,” Chelsea thought to herself.

She came from a family where alcohol use was part of family life. Both her parents suffered from alcoholism. The death of her mom when Chelsea was 22 years old drove her to seek emotional comfort in alcohol. Instead of stability, she found her life spiraling out of control. Now she stood at a fragile and desperate point.

Walking into Lakeside, alone, was a big step for her. Chelsea had a full-time job and didn’t tell anyone except her brother she was going to Lakeside for help. Feeling that she had no other choice, she walked inside.

“I felt alone. And you don’t have anybody to call. So it was very weird at first,” she says.

I knew this was what I had been waiting for. These are the things they tell you can happen when you take the plunge.

Chelsea Harper

The Lakeside staff quickly put her at ease. Especially one of the nurses.

“I had a nurse that was really great. And she shared an experience that she had. And we just connected,” Chelsea says. “She (the nurse) said, ‘I promise you I’ll get you to the alcohol and drug dependency floor soon.’”

By the end of the night, Chelsea was transferred to that department. It was the turning point for Chelsea. She felt comfortable and opened herself up to the process. She talked with therapists, participated in group programs and “anything they suggest to do.”

After a week’s stay, the Lakeside staff recommended that she participate in their boarding program. She would remain at Lakeside for treatment but go to an apartment off campus and be transported back and forth to the facility as needed.

“I was so willing to do that because I was so scared to go home,” says Chelsea.

As she continued to speak with therapists and program participants, Chelsea says she found her “why” to keep going. She saw how others, now sober, were living their lives and doing great things. That included going back to school and starting families. Chelsea saw what others were achieving and wanted that for herself.

Chelsea got out of treatment and went into a 12-step program. During the program, she met another participant who was also sober. They clicked and now, as a couple, they are finding a new road and exciting possibilities ahead.

“I knew this was what I had been waiting for. These are the things they tell you can happen when you take the plunge,” she says.