042 - Laura Beth "LB" Burkhalter
Updated: Jul 13, 2021
“It’s too difficult to love you anymore.” Laura Beth “LB” Burkhalter from Red Rock Recovery joins us to talk about addiction, getting cut off from support, treatment, recovery, and Naltrexone administration. She has a big story, and talks about the importance of getting the truth out on the table. “Sweeping things under the rug is how people die.” Enjoy.
The Illuminate Recovery Podcast is about Mental Health, Mental Illness, and Addiction Recovery. Shining light on ways to cope, manage, and inspire. Beyond the self care we discuss, you may need the help of a licensed professional. Curt Neider and Shelley Mangum are a part of Illuminate Billing Advocates (illuminatebilling.com). They are committed to helping better the industry and adding value to the lives of listeners by sharing tools, insights, and success stories of those who are working on their mental health.
Transcript (no grammar): it's too difficult to love you anymore laura beth l.b burkhalter from red rock recovery joins us to talk about addiction getting cut off from support treatment recovery and naltrexone administration she has a big story and talks about the importance of getting the truth out on the table sweeping things under the rug is how people die enjoy welcome to the illuminate recovery podcast we shed light on mental health issues mental illness and addiction recovery ways to cope manage and inspire beyond self-care we will discuss you may need the help of a licensed professional my name is kurt neider i'm a husband father entrepreneur a handyman and a student of life i avoid conflict i deflect with humor and i'm fascinated by the human experience and i'm shelley mangum i am a clinical mental health counselor and my favorite role of all times is grandma i am a seeker of truth and i feel like life should be approached with tremendous curiosity i ask the dumb questions i fill in the gaps the illuminate recovery podcast is brought to you by illuminate billing advocates make billing and collection simple with leader in substance abuse and mental health billing services verification and analysis of benefits pre-authorizations utilization management accurate claim submission and management denial and appeal management and industry-leading reporting improve your practices cash flow and your ability to help your clients with eliminate billing advocates today is uh is a great day and i'm super excited we've got lb burkholzer with us today and um lb is an alumni and community relations manager at redrock recovery center in denver colorado um lb has um is involved in a lot of boards and boards of directors and they have long names to them so i'm not going to say them all but if you want to talk about those lb you can but something that did catch my attention is she is a certified naltrexone administration trainer she's a recovery coach a co-chair of tpas in colorado um she's also a founding board member of the colorado artists in recovery and serves as an inspector for the colorado association of recovery residences lb is passionate about creating recovery communities through music and creating sober safe spaces in the lbgtq plus community lb is a human in long-term recovery who celebrated five years of sobriety in november of 2020. that's pretty cool that's pretty cool lb um thanks for being on the show today yeah thanks for having me guys it's an honor and i did fail to mention that kurt is hanging out with us too kurt i am here i am here i usually show up about like halfway through but i'm here he's very tolerant of my forgetfulness so that's fantastic um elbie just take a minute and give us some background um you know obviously not everybody dreams about being in recovery but but you are in this industry and you've got a recovery story can you give us some back background on that um so let's see um so i was born in a really small southern town uh natchez mississippi so pretty far from colorado where natchez is one of those places that fails to acknowledge the fact that mental health and substance use disorders exist um because it doesn't doesn't look look good on the families of people that have loved ones or children you know that are that are struggling with these issues um i luckily had a doctor as a mom that like started to notice that i was a little different than other kids you know like i was more angry i was more anxious um couldn't pay attention and so they started kind of dealing with some mental health stuff with me when i was around seven um and then i started getting into performing um music and dancing and stuff and modeling professionally when i was really young and that led me quickly into a space where drugs were cool and kind of part of the scene and really kind of helped fuel creativity for me um so that started around age 12 and then i went away to boarding school when i was 14 for fine arts for classical vocals and that's when like drugs really took off for me and by this time i was already struggling with some pretty severe trauma some pretty um intense eating disorders and substances just started kind of like piling on um cocaine mainly um and hallucinogens so my very first stent uh treatment was at age 15. and at this time i was hardcore into cocaine and methamphetamines um very malnourished and very sick and struggling with a lot of mental health um so my first experience with having someone tell me that i was an alcoholic you know and that i was going to have to be sober for the rest of my life was at age 15 and how on earth can you wrap your mind around that at 15 years old that you know for the next however many years you know decades i'm gonna have to be this sober person um treatment didn't stick at that age you know i went through wilderness treatment came home uh they wanted to put me in like a two-year program my family wasn't willing to let me go for that long um so i you know like lived the life of active drug addiction which was pretty miserable filled with trauma as well as like being diagnosed bipolar and dealing with all that and trying to be medicated on top of substance use doesn't really work um so i ended up going back to treatment again at 19. um and at that time somewhat successfully for a couple of months got off of cocaine um found what i thought was the love of my life i thought a marriage and a child you know and like business would make me normal i just needed to do normal things you know to like be like everybody else um so i got married and i had a child and then had some pretty significant like losses and more trauma in my immediate family um so i once again like pack up move across the country because i think that all these things are gonna fix me like relocating you know changing my last name adding a child into this picture um you know like i just would try to cling on to anything that i thought was normal um so i'm really far away from my family again which always was easier for me because then they couldn't see just how bad i was doing and my family love them to death you know but like they're really good at just turning their cheek and not really paying attention um as to like what's going on as long as it's not in their direct face or kind of affecting their day-to-day like they're not really bothered with it um which these were you know these were my demons so and i own that but uh it was easier for me to do it far away so being that far um with a young child and a business and a husband um things got really dark really fast uh because what i found out was i broke my foot and for the first time in my life i've never been into opiates um you know like i was always uh how fast can i go i want to run through everything and be awake 24 hours a day seven days a week and i had this injury and they prescribed me painkillers and i like got that first real like 48 hours taste of opiates and for the first time in as long as i could remember i could like finally take a breath you know like i'm i can like relive it over and over because it was like for once my brain stopped yelling at me um my body stopped yelling at me and i was able to breathe and that was it like for the next uh i was like i like to say hardcore addicted to substances for 15 years and the first six was cocaine and then the last nine was fentanyl and heroin um and it it it was like it was on from there it was like anything that got in my way of getting that opiate use had to go away um i i left my business i left my husband i took my kid moved across the country kept relocating um would try to fill the void with like other i would try to surround myself with people that opiate use was normal you know because like my husband was freaked out about it and like didn't understand like what was wrong with me um and so like anything i could do to get away from people that that wasn't their norm so i was surrounding myself with people that wanted to get high 24 hours a day um i i did continue to have more and more breaks in my legs uh there was like i had a weird medical condition where i i was doing long distance running on heroin and opiates and so i was getting really gnarly like stress fractures in my legs and it was from hematomas in my bone marrow that would get so large the bone would break and so i was going to like all these doctors and specialists but being very um like drug addict-seeking in the process um and i won't go into detail because i don't want anyone to learn any bad behaviors from that but let's just say that i was getting way over prescribed i was prescribed to fentanyl lots of pills with multiple um identities you know and like i was able to kind of maintain with those but at the same time buying more fentanyl and heroin on the streets um and i was i've been on benzos at this point for probably since i was 18 so like you know a combination of benzos fentanyl heroin like what can go wrong you know you're all set but yeah what could go wrong there um and then that behavior continued for years to the point where all i wanted to do was sit and sit in my home alone um and just kind of not exist like there were times when i i don't think i moved for days on end and it's so sad for me to think about now you know like how much time just like literally just just flew by my face and i didn't even like know time was passing um because what ended up happening is like i burned every relationship around me you know like my family wanted nothing to do with me they knew that like something was very wrong but they didn't know just how bad it had gotten um and i remember calling my dad and i was like i think i think i i think i need help like this is like life's gotten really dark and i just want to die and he was like we've done this dance with you god my dad would like kill me for saying this he's like we've done this dance with you time and time again um why don't you just go to the suboxone clinic like everyone else does and i was like okay like i even called a treatment center that was like willing to fly me out the next day and he was like you have a child you have things to take care of like no one's gonna do this for you just go to the suboxone clinic and like do whatever you have to do and i was like okay so i did and then all i did was sell the suboxone there was no outpatient associated you know there was no therapy associated it was just like here's your suboxone strips have fun um so like that didn't go over well um so another year went by and this was exactly a year from that time i called asking for help um almost exactly a year later i ended up in treatment but i'll back up a few weeks um i basically woke up and i was nine months pregnant and i was so dissociated and in such a state of delusion that it's like i didn't know what was going on with my body my life i was just in this cloud um and i i like come to and i'm basically having another child and they're looking at me going like what's wrong with this infant and my mom who's a doctor mind you is sitting in the room and she looks at me and she's like they just came in with a with a social worker and your child is in withdrawals from heroin from opiates and like the look on her face she was so disgusted and my parents have always been my biggest supporters but my biggest enablers at the same time um so to see her so disgusted with me was like i was like how how quickly can i get out of this because this is so uncomfortable i can't i can't do this like i just can't face any of this i was facing like federal wire charge like uh wire charge uh oh my gosh federal federal wire fraud charges because i had been like taking so much money from my dad and he was just like letting me do it and then it got like on like fed's radar and it was really bad um so i'm like in the hospital my dad's confronting me with these charges from feds my mom is like your kid has just been born addicted to drugs um what is happening and so they take my child to the nicu he's detoxed you know for three weeks uh on morphine and it's probably to this day the most painful thing i've ever you know had to witness drawn out like that and know that i was the direct cause of it um so he gets out at six weeks old and comes to live with me and it's just me and him because at this point my mom's taking care of my eight-year-old son um and that i mean it didn't last very long you know like by a weekend my dad had showed up uh to my apartment in baton rouge and came in and he found you know like lock boxes of needles and paraphernalia and all kinds of bad stuff and he's like you can't have these children like you can't take care of yourself um this has to end and i remember my he put my mom on speaker and they're divorced so it was like really interesting to have them both like right there with it you know and um she was like you're going to die is that what you want like you are going to die you have a six week old child you have an eight-year-old son that adores you you've somehow managed to be a mom to this kid like you're going to die and they have to grow up like knowing that that you chose drugs over them um god it was awful you know um so the very i'm 20 i was 29 years old at this point so i've been basically out not gone to treatment for the last 10 years and so i went to treatment the very next morning and that was august of 2015. i did 42 days which is like a normal stint in treatment got out um didn't do anything they told me to do like didn't get a sponsor said i had one wrote it on the whiteboard in the sober living house um did and didn't do anything they said and so of course that led to a really nasty six-week relapse where i overdosed was in a coma for three days with a blood sugar of 760 and pronounced dead you know like it was like that was it i don't the doctors were like i don't know how like you're alive but you must be here for a reason like please get some help and i walked out of the hospital november 3rd injected the same drugs i had just overdosed on um and lived that way until thanksgiving day like homeless in my car in new orleans and i called my dad and i was like can you just send me you know it's thanksgiving like can you just send me five dollars for gas and my dad's like the he's got a great sense of humor like this man will make a joke out of absolutely anything and it's like his way you know of avoidance and in this moment um i'm like begging him you know just for five bucks for gas and he's like no and i was like but i could die out here like i'm gonna run out of gas you know like in the middle of new orleans and he's like i can't care anymore it's too difficult to love you anymore and those words like my dad's always been i've always been a daddy's girl he's my best friend you know and it was like for my dad who would literally do absolutely anything in the world for me whether it hurt me or helped me because he would just do anything i asked could no longer even love me um and so i drove i drove myself to treatment somehow i don't even know how i got there honestly um i and somehow managed to get drugs too like i don't know how we do it sometimes it's it's crazy um and i checked in on thanksgiving day of 2015 and i've been sober ever since um i walked in there and told them i was here for detox only and that i was going back to my sober living in baton rouge and they were like nah i don't think so like uh um my mom called i i tried to ama from detox actually and walked out and my dad had taken my car in the middle of the night so that was really embarrassing because i was in the middle of nowhere in louisiana um and i mean that in and of itself probably kept me there and saved my life too um not to mention like the really harsh words that he said you know before i went in there which is understandable um and a good reminder you know like every time i say it out loud it brings me to tears but it reminds me of like how bad life really was then um and how how much pain he must have been in to have to say something like that to me um so i decided to do at that that i just like completely surrendered and i let go and i was like you know i guess i really have no idea what i'm doing do i do i really want to die or do i like do i want to figure this out and they suggested that i do a year of treatment again they've been saying that since i was 15 and my family and i finally listened and so i did 10 days there um flew out to california god flew out to colorado um and did uh three months at the recovery village and then did six months at aspen ridge recovery in lakewood um which is where i like graduated got out you know did sober living and outpatient and by the time i was done i had a year you know and life was so had already become so amazing by that time that i didn't i didn't ever want to go backwards you know it was like when you when you look at a year under your belt like a year of sobriety time and i had already like made amends at nine months sober and had worked all 12 steps i got i got sober through 12 step um and treatment but it was like i i come too far and i've worked too hard to like ever want to go backwards i've never had that much time sober in my entire life you know i couldn't do 24 hours much less a month or anything you know so a year it was so huge so i didn't want to leave um my i'd like created a family at aspen ridge and so i started volunteering there every week for two and a half years until they finally were like please just come work for us you know and so i worked there that's how i got my start you know in this industry and i worked there and then eventually started working my way up and like worked my way over into like management director roles with redrock so it's like yeah so here i am almost six years later and it's mind-blowing to like think about like what all i've done in this amount of time oh my word lb that's an incredible story like that like i'm on the edge of my seat and i'm i'm watching because i'm watching you i know not everybody's going to see your face but you're this vivacious woman that's got all this energy and this emotion and this i mean everything's right there on this on the surface right and this incredible life where you've had all this opportunity and i think at 15 you went into recovery at 15 when most kids that's when they're starting to dabble in drugs and and and then you talk about how intense that was as and having your second baby and in my head i'm like what made you stay what made you stay and and i'm imagining that mother's pull and that mother's you know wanting to be with her baby and the same time everything in your whole body says i just want to run i just want to be out of here i want to make this disappear oh my heck what a story yeah it's uh it's definitely intense uh and it really it's so crazy that it feels like yesterday when i retell it but it has been years and years you know and i've like mended all of these amazing relationships in my family and um my children still don't live with me like if anyone's curious you know like they still don't live with me um but it's it's become our normal you know uh my mom has continued to raise my 14 year old son he's 14 now um and my dad has raised the baby who will be six this month um and it's you know they live across the street from each other and they see each other every day and while i'm sure it's so wild to most people they're like what is this situation like it really has become our norm and my son comes to visit i go there to visit the little one's been out here um and it's just like we make it work and we're just really transparent now we kind of all as a family learned lessons through this which is transparency saves lives like turning your cheek and hoping that this problem goes away isn't gonna work for anyone um and so we like openly talk about mental health substance use eating disorder behaviors all of these things and it's like there's it's the littlest one doesn't obviously have as much information as the 14 year old but it's like we have a relationship now where it's like if somebody even jokes about drugs at school he's like he's texting me about it you know because we just like we want these things to be on the surface at all times because like sweeping them under the rug which is what my family did for a really really long time is how people die and i've watched it my you know my little hometown um the suicide rate and overdose rate is insane and i look around at everybody i grew up with and every one of them is gone i lost every one of them to this disease in one way or the other um and it's just like that's something i think i wish more people would do more of is like talk openly and break down barriers to treatment and break down conversation barriers around mental health and substance use because it's not going to go away well it's not and there's such a gap and and i think about where you were at at 15 i don't know that you were really open to listen even if they were on board right and were because they got you into treatment and they wanted you to get better but but yeah it's not like that generation is not open about talking about it they were just the diehards we're going to push through and we're going to do whatever we have to and if it kills us it kills us but we're not talking about this stuff right yeah and so what a shift and how incredible how incredibly courageous your dad was to be willing to come and get your car until you know right i mean these pivotal moments that you know makes you want to just kill them and and you know hate them with everything in you and it's the very moments that probably save your life yeah and i find myself telling that to families nowadays you know like your your kid may be really pissed in that moment but i promise you they'll look back and appreciate it because it doesn't you that resentment can't last because as you heal as a person in recovery you understand that like that was the final straw for them it was that or lose their child forever you know and that was all all they ever wanted um you know was to see me become the person i was supposed to be and you know like all these like these harsh these harsh things that they said and like these harsh lessons um are like exactly what got me to where i am today so talk about what you are doing today i mean i could ask you a bazillion questions about your story and and i might still do it but but talk about what you're doing right now because you talked about having bipolar that doesn't just go away right you have to learn to manage that and manage mental health talk about how you do that and how you stay you know keep yourself in a good place and what your tools are that you use and how bipolar still plays a role in your life yeah so um on a on a daily basis um i take no medications for mental health like i have not taken mental health meds in probably eight years um and i i mean i do i do great uh benzos less i mean i got off of those around the same time i went to treatment um so i still struggle with panic and anxiety disorder i'm still very adhd um and i i use mindfulness a lot you know like a lot of mindfulness techniques come into my day-to-day first like i'm very regimented i was never very scheduled obviously in active addiction um and so like some of the things i learned in treatment on like setting an alarm clock and waking up at the same time going to bed at the same time um you know like in scheduling out my day still plays a role um you know time to clean the house uh you know deep clean on sunday like all of these things that i learned i still do every day so i wake up and i set my intentions for the day i do meditation um and i i have a very set routine you know and then i work and i work really hard um and then i'm i'm really i'm a huge advocate for physical fitness and nutrition in recovery from all things um so nutrition plays a huge part in my life uh you know as well as like vitamins supplements and then i'm an active i bicycle and power lift um and that helps me with some of my like anxiety and aggression uh because i have such a healthy outlet to put it into and then at the end of all that like how much more steam could you have you know like at the end of a very long like busy work day and all of these other side projects that i do and then my gym life it's like i'm exhausted come bedtime um and it's you know and then i find i find time for like 12 step and personal recovery and stuff and all that too um i i haven't seen a therapist since treatment it's something that i'll probably you know like step back into but it's difficult when you work in this industry because you know everyone and everyone knows you so it's been a little tricky narrowing that down um but yeah i mean just some of my my everyday tools would definitely be mindfulness um and like just being active you know like it helps it helps me not get depressed um it helps me stay focused and yeah like in you know just being transparent too and things like when something pops up and i'm not feeling all that great because i surround myself with amazing human beings in recovery i'm able to say that you know like i'm having a bad day today like what's going on here um you know and like people can kind of we can like walk through you know like what may be affecting it maybe i need sunshine maybe it's winter you know like some of these seasonal things um but i haven't yet i haven't felt the need or had the need for mental health meds or further treatment sense that's a big deal because some people would some people would shun you for that lb it's like medications are there for a reason they're gonna help you but i also see your energy right and they're like it's contagious it's absolutely contagious and if i could go through life with as much energy as you you know it has its black it has its dark sides right but but you know all the things that you have energy to do and then you just wear yourself out so that you can at least fall asleep at the end of the day and feel like you know i win today right yeah i accomplish a lot and that feels great you know and like i'm i'm so fulfilled spiritually mentally emotionally physically that there's really nothing lacking tell me tell me about your work so you're a now a naltrexone administration trainer administration trainer did i say that right yes i was talking to somebody the other day about naltrexone and how you know there's this movement to try and get it everywhere that it needs to be because it saves lives and and it's a big deal talk about that just a little bit so um what i was finding working working at my last job where i was involved with alumni every single day was um i i got a i got a phone call at you know like at midnight and i answered of course and it was someone who was with someone overdosing um and i got there before the paramedics did so i was able to administer uh it was the naltrexone so the injection i was able to administer it before the paramedics got there it took them 22 minutes to respond um and that when the when the paramedics got there they obviously had narcan on them but the police officers that arrived at the same time did not um and they really kind of had this outlook of like this is denver county right like denver police department doesn't carry narcan like are you kidding me and so i got i got like really emotional about it and was like this kid would have died if i wouldn't have answered my phone and gotten there you know like before they did because they wouldn't have had narcan even if they'd gotten there before me um and so i like started this movement and it was like how can how can i use my mom who's a physician to like help me create a training presentation that's like understandable to to the public where people feel safe to ask questions um and we can get like narcan and naltrexone in as many hands as possible um and so i started doing like community trainings on it and started going to tattoo shops and gas stations and petsmart and like all these places where people overdose in the bathroom and they don't know what to do about it and people are dying because it takes the emts so long to get there not their fault they're overworked you know but it's we have there's got to be another line of defense you know and so i i just started trying to like get it out there as much as humanly possible and that's how like all of that was created well it's incredible and and it does it saves lives i mean i was i was reading uh an assessment of a client the other day and i think they had administer it three times but it saved their life right it just saved their life and and so to me it's like i mean i i play both sides it's like well if we put it out there is somebody gonna steal it is somebody gonna misuse it what are the downsides of putting it everywhere none there are none um a toddler can can put now can put narcan up their nose 15 times and it can't harm them there is no way to misuse it there is no way to harm someone with it um and unless they have a very very rare like underlying allergy or condition to the the substances in the narcan or naltrexone which are identical just different you know just different ways to to administer it um but there is no downside so what a lot of times what i say is like when in doubt just shoot them with narcan like because you can't hurt anything it won't reverse benzos it won't reverse alcohol it won't reverse any of that but what it will do is if there's any fentanyl in the cocaine even that they just did it will kick those those like synthetic opioids out of their receptors so why not you know like fentanyl's in everything now like the only thing you can do is like try to try to act on like what you can see and what you can help with while emts are coming um so no downside put it everywhere it should be literally everywhere they have sharps containers in walmart bathrooms why don't they have narcan i love it i love it and and i asked that question on purpose because i think that's these are questions that come up in people's minds of no we can't like there's we got to be careful and we got to be you know you know plan for all the risks but really there's the the risks the risks are so minor compared to the lives that it saves and you're a lot of i know that a lot of people are like yeah but this and when i say a lot of people i mean maybe um maybe normies that don't like haven't really dealt with this firsthand may may look at it as this person has made a choice to do these drugs like why are we saving them because look at me like six years ago i died you know and i was given the chance to come back and be of use and be of service and save hundreds of other people's lives like why wouldn't you want someone to fulfill a purpose like that by like by one one little dose of a medication you know that could give them the chance to be like you know what i don't want i don't want this like i don't want to die i i want to you know like i wanna figure out how to not do this anymore um and it's the amount of people that we are losing to overdose is so overwhelming and mind-blowing think of all the people in the like in these this these numbers these huge numbers that we're losing that could have been our next you know scientists doctors like you know our leaders in this field um and it's like we're we're losing them by the hundreds i want to bank off of what you just said because beca and i've said this a million times maybe not in the podcast but the the people that i have met that are in recovery for substance abuse are some of the highest highest functioning people i have ever met in my life and so what you say is not just what if it is the truth that these are incredible people and i'm looking at your story and you started so young into the drugs people do not understand that yeah you may have had a choice at one point but really as a teenager there's no choice there it's you know it's available and you start taking it but when you know as you're in the hospital having your second child there's no longer a choice there's no choice your body every part of your body is saying this is the most important thing in my life and i'm gonna die if i don't get it and how you ever stayed with that baby in that situation is incredible to me and speaks to the power of of motherhood right um but people do not understand how difficult and how powerless someone becomes you know due to a drug and due to the longevity of that in your system it changes your biology it changes those neural pathways you're helpless to it right there's no way that you can stop that pattern until you get help and so people don't understand your dad and your mom didn't understand right yeah and i i remember getting a glimpse of it when i was in treatment in my like they were going around and asking you know and my mom my mom said i knew that there was a serious problem when i saw my daughter do something like this to an innocent child because that's not who she is she would have never intentionally harmed an unborn baby um and i i got a glimpse at to like into them like starting to to understand um but it was it was really a friend of mine who's an interventionist broke it down to me and she was like you know when at that point in time like your their attachments don't matter anymore like loved ones don't matter anymore your day-to-day actions don't matter anymore because you're in a you're in a an area of like fight or flight and survival at all times so it's like i have to do this or i'll die but i'm but i'm also like i think i'm gonna die anyway like it's just this constant fear of like i'm gonna die if i don't do this but i'm gonna die if i do this also like it's like it's just it's just survival and it's you know like it's hard to it's hard to like remember or um like put myself back in those days where i ha where i did things like that 24 hours a day um but it really is something that it's not a choice anymore like once my my mind had been living that way for 15 years like i i had more life living like that than i did as a child you know because i really started a lot of these addictive behaviors through eating disorders i i've had my first eating disorder behaviors at eight years old so it's like from eight until 29 like what i had seven years of life experience before that like what was i gonna bank on yeah it's not life experience right yeah if you could go back right because now you're looking back at that with all of these experiences afterwards what do you go back and do differently with that seven eight nine year old you know i've thought about that and uh i don't know um it's i don't know because some of the some of the resources especially in that area of the country like there wasn't a lot available back then and there wasn't uh i mean this industry's come so far with mental health and substance use disorder treatment um that i'm not sure i'm not sure what would be different there um except for more open conversation you know like with family um instead of my mom i think trying to label some of those things with medical terms just like having uh a conversation with her daughter probably would have changed a lot um you know like i i had how does uh how does an eight-year-old kid have like no self-esteem or confidence you know like i had body dysmorphia by the time i was 10 like what do you do what do you do with that um but it just you know at the same time it's like all of these things shaped me to be the human being that i am today um and i'm able to relate with so many people on so many levels that now i wouldn't change anything no and i think you answered the question what do you do about the eight-year-old that's still in that position you know we love them as much as we can and we help as much as we can but you show them how to heal right you go through your program and you continue on that course of recovery you're showing your kids right you're showing your kids how to heal you're showing your kids how to recover you're showing them how to be authentic and transparent and your whole family is healing based on your recovery i think that's that's sometimes all we left with and what we have to do and and maybe you know we think we can't go save the eight-year-old and we would love to be able to go save the eight-year-old but look at you look at you and look at what you've become and and you didn't do that without an awful hard hard road ahead right yeah which it's cool it's cool and i asked myself that too right i mean i i have i know people that that struggle with mental illness and and they bring children into the world and it's like how do i save that child and i'm like i can't save the child i can be there i can show up and i can protect them if i think something's really horrible happening but but you know we don't take children away from moms if they do enough good right um and so so i don't know i throw those things around in my own head as we can save them all but we can certainly per you know have these conversations and improve the way we address it you know in the future yeah i mean being able to being able to see some like so many of these things are so apparent to me now you know like when i uh even just in my 14 year old son like i'm able to notice behaviors that to me are like alarms um you know and like we can kind of address some of those things like head on with social anxiety with he even like started having some eating disorder behaviors uh like about a year ago and it was like my mom and i were on the phone like talking about it like how do we have these conversations with him you know he's a 14 year old boy that's 90 pounds and five foot six like this is you know like and he thinks he's he thinks he's overweight like and so we just kind of like hit it head-on with like conversations and no judgment like we always hit it with no judgement this is how you feel like i validate that but like this is also what i see and like how can you know like how can we talk about this um and it's just yeah we just have a lot of open honest conversations and that i think will help shape shape this like next generation uh because like the more we do that the more we'll save yeah i agree so much so so talk about um there's so much we can talk about talk about what you're doing right now you know you come from a a modeling and a in a music background and you've got all these talents how does that fit into your life today so i started writing music in treatment again um i was terrified because substances had always fueled my creativity for so long that i thought i'd lose that forever um so i started writing music and treatment but like wouldn't play it in front of anyone um and i was i think i was just so terrified to play sober that you know i didn't really know what to do with the anxiety um and then got an opportunity to help start like a like a first sober open mic type thing and i had no intentions of getting up there and playing and then kind of got pushed into doing it like i just helped put it on and then they were like go up like go like go go play and um i got up there and i was terrified and i played in front of this group of sober human beings um and the support was tremendous and i was like how do i keep doing this so i then kept playing and kept writing and kept recording and releasing um and it's so funny because my i say funny uh to me it's funny because my music is so dark and so sad um and it's about all the loss and the hurt and stuff that i've experienced through like finding recovery um and i i'm not like shy about that anymore you know it's like it's literally my soul that i'm pouring out there and i use that as a way to spread hope um so i started finding ways to like incorporate like sober open mics and to work and then got um the the executive director of colorado artists in recovery asked me to come on at the very beginning and be a founding board member for care um and we've just like tried to use creativity and art and all kinds of shapes and forms to help people find wellness you know like in in recovery from anything um and so i you know it's it's really about like conquering fear and doing it in a non-judgmental space um and kind of like finding other pathways to heal uh so i mean yeah i use it i use music every day too and perform and still do these like sober open mics and it's a it's a huge deal for me you know like i'm able to get a really strong message out there with my music um that you know i know it really it kind of shows people like how dark it was for me but then i like stopped playing and i'm this like super happy bubbly energetic person they're like where did this come from like i never would have dreamed that something like this like this type of music and these lyrics would have come out of you because most of these people have only ever seen me sober um so it's a really it's a transformational process you know like art in general um is a transformative craft um and you get to really see people find themselves through it it's beautiful well it sounds like you're you're working through that grieving process in your music and and so i can hear you know i can hear when you say you you may look at going back to a therapist and you know working through some of that stuff you're doing it like you're in the heart of it right and maybe it's that idea that you're ready for the next step right what's the next step because i think for me and i imagine this is true for you that i got to do my work because if i don't do my work it sneaks up on me and comes out sideways and and looks in you know i show up in ways i don't want to show up so you just never stop right it's a lifelong process yeah absolutely um i i think sometimes life feels so good that sometimes i forget you know like some of the the dark pieces that i still need to work on and i have done that with music um i i was like i was having a situation where my dad was adopting my youngest son and it like hit me like a ton of bricks man like i was rocked to the floor you know and i was i was i had no thoughts of using it was just really severe depression and but i couldn't cry i like while i was like in the fetal position i still wasn't crying or really processing the emotion and i went and wrote a song about it like i just i just like dove in and i released buckets and buckets of guilt and shame and sadness and it i i wasn't like cured after that but it was so therapeutic um that i i got so fulfilled from it and was able to kind of really accept a lot of it through that and i knew it was the next best thing wow yeah i can tell how powerful it is um lb what's in the future for you oh man sky's the limit you know like it really is i have my hands in in a lot of different areas you know like of the recovery world and um i i don't know i i mean i do i do have like dreams and wishes of one day having like women sober living you know for or women with children uh because i it is an area i'm so passionate about now um but there's also like tons of areas to grow with like the artist aspect in recovery and then i mean i have my full-time job at red rock which i just adore and get to do this stuff on the front lines every single day is is you know is life changing um yeah i don't know and then i also run like a social media and like a recovery merch store called recovered humans so i get to like do some other creative stuff like that you know like through through like funny recovery shirt t-shirts and merch and stuff um so i don't know it's like really like i said sky's the limit yeah i don't know what else you could possibly do and i don't know how you do it all because that you know i think i'm busy but that's incredible like you got boatloads of energy and it's fantastic um i imagine that as you've talked about your music and your writing and some of that can people hear that online do you have is that out there to where they can go find it yeah i actually have music on spotify and apple music um and it's just under my name it's just laura beth burkhalter um so i chose i chose to go by like my my birth name because when i was modeling and performing as a kid they kept forcing me to change it because they said it like wasn't high fashion enough so it's kind of like a snub like i am enough and so i'm doing it like under my birth name so yeah check it out it's real sad but but i promise it's uh i've grown a lot so you know don't be sad for me oh that's incredible um laura thanks for coming and sharing your incredible story and your vitality um your enthusiasm for this work and and all of the things that that make you who you are i mean it's contagious for sure and like i feel like i'm your best friend now i want i want more right i want more laura um but thanks for being on and sharing all that and um i have no doubt that people are gonna reach out because um because you have you have a lot to give and you've already given a a ton so thanks thanks shelly thanks kurt like i i just i really appreciate you guys asking me to be here and you giving people a voice to share some of this stuff is huge so thank you for your work as well um yep this was awesome thanks