June 9, 2020
Homecoming Queen. Voted “Best Personality.” Addicted to drugs.
This is who Katie Norfleet was as a teenager, but it’s not who she is today.
After reading the Community Voice’s Cost of Addiction series, Norfleet offered to tell her story of recovery and finding her purpose in hopes of encouraging others that they can find that, too.
Norfleet has fond memories with her family from childhood, but life changed when her father died when she and her twin brother, Kyle, were six.
Then, hard times became worse at 16 when Kyle was killed in an accident as his best friend drove while drunk in their hometown of Clarksville, Tenn.
She was incredibly close to him and recalls that he is who first taught her to pray at 12 years old.
Norfleet had already experimented with marijuana before Kyle’s death.
As a teenager, she lacked confidence and getting high soon became her way of fitting in and covering pain. She didn’t realize what she was awakening.
“I was 14 years old the first time I got high,” said Norfleet. “It didn’t hit me right then and there. I did not grow up thinking ‘one day when I grow up, I want to be an addict.’ To be honest, I didn’t know what addiction was.”
Her house was the place to party with friends and she considers the first time that she tried the opioid Lortab at age 19 as when she became a full-blown addict.
“I thought I would be okay.”
She would sell drugs to feed her addiction, but then decided to get sober at 21.
“I went to a Suboxone doctor and got addicted to that. I felt so defeated. I was missing something and I didn’t know what it was. I was clinging to anything,” said Norfleet.
Shortly after, she met a charming man named Matt Norfleet, fell in love and married him on a cliff in Utah after knowing him two months. She warned him she was an addict.
They just celebrated 11 years together.
“There was this light inside of him. It was peaceful and I wanted it,” said Norfleet. “But, I put that man through so much. He’s such a good man and father and he never stopped praying for me and loved me in spite of me not loving myself.”
Matt is a Christian and led her to Christ, but she still hadn’t understood what that meant.
“Even though I had Jesus in my heart, I had yet to form a relationship with Him,” said Norfleet. “My relationship was getting high – it’s all I wanted to do.”
Norfleet had bouts of sobriety and welcomed two children, Emery, now 8, and Drennon, now 4.
Eventually, she relapsed and they moved from Utah back to Henry County. She sought help through rehab and a psychiatrist, but that ended because they respectively prescribed her Neurotin and Suboxone. Adderall came into the picture, too.
Norfleet was working and taking care of her family while in active addiction.
She then overdosed outside of her vehicle one day and a bystander used Narcan to revive her and called 911. Yet she went looking for more pills as soon as she got home from the hospital.
Matt gave her an ultimatum, and she went to Liberty Ranch in Casey County.
“The good thing about getting sober is you get your feelings back; the bad thing about getting sober is you get your feelings back,” said Norfleet.
After two months, she let go of fixing things on her own, her recovery began and she has been sober since Feb. 20, 2017.
“Losing your twin brother was hard, but getting sober was way harder,” said Norfleet. “I’ll have this disease the rest of my life. People in programs used to tell me that every year I stayed sober it would get better and better. After that second year, I was like ‘oh my goodness, this is real.’”
She said she stays sober because of God.
“It’s been a spiritual journey. You don’t know how many miles I walked delivering mail saying ‘devil get behind me because I’ve got Jesus. If I quit with my prayer life and developing my life with God, I’m done for.”
Norfleet was living in Lebanon when recovery began, but many may recognize Norfleet as a former mail carrier in Adair County. They moved to Adair in 2018 after her husband’s promotion and she is now a stay at home mother.
“How in the world is it that God allowed my husband to get that promotion to get away from all of that to come to this? If that’s not divine intervention, I don’t know what is.”
She dedicates her life to Jesus, her family and to their sheep farm in Pellyton.
Norfleet now knows that mental illness and past familial addiction contributed to hers. It stops with her.
“I see so many people in Columbia hopeless and I want to tell them my story. I don’t want them to feel that way, I want them to know those chains can be broken,” said Norfleet.
She doesn’t associate with anyone who used drugs with her previously and she believes there should be more educating of youth about how serious drugs can be.
She’s learning to gain her confidence back and has finally forgiven herself for her past mistakes.
“You have to look at the person who was addicted and you have to learn how to separate their addiction from them. Being an addict is the most humbling thing I have ever gone through in my entire life.”
Norfleet knows that quarantine earlier this year gave addicts the opportunity to feed their addiction because as she said, “idle hands are the devil’s playground.”
“Go get your mental health checked out, go to a meeting, find a sponsor. For me, I found God and finally surrendered and that’s when he completely turned my life upside down. People just have to latch onto something, whether it be AA,
NA, God, sports or whatever it is.”
The peace she feels every day is possible for anyone suffering from addiction.
“There’s so much more to life. Life is so beautiful and every day that I wake up is a blessing. Stop and smell the roses. I just want people to know that it can happen to you and here are your three options: jails, institutions or death. You choose. Live your life.”
By Anna Buckman