Alcohol became a treat at 13. Marijuana dogged her high school years.
So when Kelly began struggling with homework in college, unable to concentrate, her roommate introduced her to Ritalin, "the pill form of cocaine," she claims.
The smart psychology major knew just what to tell the doctors to get diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder and score a prescription for Ritalin. It didn't take much crushing and snorting before Kelly became a full-fledged abuser.
Yet, life went on. Kelly got a job, got married and got a home. Her first-born, a boy, arrived four years ago by Cesarean section. With him came a prescription for Vicadin.
"I got addicted to it right away," says Kelly, who blames her addictions partly on genetics in a family filled with alcoholics.
"My parents have told me on the outside it looked like I was holding everything together."
But inside, she says, she was falling apart.
" … It started interfering with every single portion of my life because that's all I cared about, was getting my pills."
She quit her job. The couple lost everything.
Charging through nearly 30 Vicadin a day and a month's supply of Ritalin a week, she'd go from doctor to doctor for pills, sometimes several different doctors every day, carting her boys along. She'd visit dentists and emergency rooms at night. Before long, she began printing out prescriptions on the computer.
"That became a daily thing where I would wake up in the morning and print out the prescription, write it out, go cut it perfectly and go around to pharmacies until I found one that would fill it for me."
Again, the smart psychology major knew exactly what to do-until she got caught. Landing in jail for forgery, without her drugs and without her kids, she says she thought she was going to die.
Yet just two days out of jail, she wrote another prescription, nearly getting caught.
"That's when I got on my knees and said, 'I need help, God. … I don't want to raise my kids this way.' "
After a 28-day in-patient treatment program, she embraced motherhood with the enthusiasm of a new mother. But she wasn't prepared for all that life with two small boys can bring. Help came in pill size with a steep price: Three months in jail.
She was released directly to The Women's Treatment Center. Pregnant with her third baby, a girl, she spent many afternoons crafting a keepsake quilt and reflecting on what she's done to her kids.
Her oldest has seen the changes. "He had said to me after I had gotten out of rehab the first time, 'you're a good mommy now.' And then when I relapsed, he said, 'momma you're not my best friend anymore, I don't like you anymore.' He knew instantly. That really crushed me, but it really hit home, like wow I was affecting my children like this," Kelly says. "Since we've gotten here, he said 'momma I'm so glad I came to live with you. I belong with you.'
" 'God gave me the best momma.' "
The family added a new sister last month.