Recovery is a journey that takes one to many places. This is the story of one young woman who has dedicated herself to giving her future and sharing her past to inspire others on their own path to recovery.
Alesha Clausen grew up with an intimate familiarity with addiction. She watched her father deteriorate with alcoholism, and experienced neglect, abuse and abandonment as a result. She was moved to foster families, who decided quickly that she was not daughter they had in mind. She began to self harm and was constantly being relocated to juvenile facilities such as Heartland Girls’ Ranch and Elmore Academy. Her school work suffered with every move, and by the time she was to be a senior in high school, she had received little above an eighth grade level education.
At 18, Alesha gave birth to her first daughter, an event which inspired several positive changes in her life. She became a leader and advocate for the Minnesota Head Start Association, and went on to become a member of the PTA at her daughter’s school. She was determined to set her child on a path of health, safety, and growth, though she herself never experienced that.
Things were going well, until a devastating loss left Alesha unprepared to cope. In May of 2015 her grandfather passed away. He was like a father to her, and in her grief, a friend offered her solace in the form of a substance she would eventually become addicted to.
“A friend offered me meth, and said it would make me feel better. And it did.” Alesha was 27 years old, a fact that she states often surprises people.
“Even though my use didn’t start until I was 27, my whole life I’ve had addict behaviors. The way I was acting, how I’ve treated people, the way I thought.”
Her use quickly spiraled out of control. She experienced times of short-lived sobriety, which she states were for her children. She had a son and another daughter, all while going through court proceedings for crimes she committed during her cycle of active use. Eventually she came to feel that it was best to separate her kids from the consequences of her addiction. It was at this point that she left them in the care of their grandparents, while she herself became homeless.
Shoplifting, credit card fraud, and second degree drug possession were among the legal troubles she faced. She was charged twice with second degree possession. As a result of the charges, and eventually guilty verdict, Alesha was sentenced to 68 months in prison and 20 years probation. While incarcerated, she gave birth to another daughter.
Alesha viewed prison as a period of time to work on herself. She trained for and was accepted to a military-style boot camp where the physical and mental training was more challenging than most of her peers were able to handle. “Our group began with 12 women, only 5 finished,” she recalls. Her determination didn’t end there — she earned her GED in prison with one of her biggest goals being to go to college.
“I did a lot of working on myself. The person I am today is definitely not the person I was when I went to prison. It taught me a lot about accountability, and discipline, and respect… it gave me the structure I needed.”
Her accomplishments after release and throughout her recovery have been nothing short of amazing. Given the choice to move out on her own, Alesha chose to stay at Journey Home — a residential facility providing primary chemical dependency programming and housing — to set herself up for success. She got her license back, got a car, enrolled in multiple parenting classes, got a job, and got involved in the local recovery community by volunteering at NA booths at community events — all while attending NA meetings every night of the week, which she continues to do to this day.
Alesha is now a student at St. Cloud Technical Community College with plans to transfer to St. Cloud State University to complete her Bachelor’s degree and then a Master’s in Social Work. She also plans to earn her LADC, to use her experience with substance use disorder and her story of recovery to inspire and help others to see that recovery is possible.
September 11th, 2019 was Alesha’s 18-month sober date.