SCOTT COUNTY, Tenn. — When Keisha Thrower looks at her life today, she has to remind herself that it's real. She's a mother, college graduate and peer recovery specialist.
"Sometimes my life feels like a dream," she said. "Every day is a blessing."
Thrower said her childhood was filled with trauma and sexual abuse. That's when she was prescribed anti-anxiety medications.
"I started abusing drugs at the age of nine," Thrower said. "But I really didn't spiral out of control until I was about 19 years old ... I was a very broken, damaged young woman."
She met a guy who introduced her to Oxycontin. She began selling drugs, lost custody of her children and became homeless.
"I was a shell of a human being and I got arrested," Thrower said. "I prayed in jail. I prayed for God to either let me die or help me because my life was a mess and I needed help."
Thrower said she was able to go to a halfway house, be in a drug court program and receive peer recovery specialist training.
She started working for the Scott County recovery court where she helped others find their path to recovery while continuing her own.
Then, she got the opportunity to attend Roane State Community College.
"I didn't know if it was something that I was going to be able to do — to go to college," she said. "But once I got to Roane State, I had a success coach that made me believe in myself enough that I could do this."
This summer, about 10 years after became sober, she celebrated her recovery milestone with a college degree.
"My kids know my whole entire journey and I want them to be proud of me," she said. "I want them to be able to go to college. I want to be able to help buy their first car and just things that any mother would want for their kids."
Thrower's story is a message of hope and it's one she said she hopes to share with others — help can be just one call away.
"I just encourage people to reach out," she said. "I want to show other people that there's life after drugs, that there's hope that you can have a future."