From Junkie to Judge

Junkie to Judge blog graphic

Mary Beth O’Connor is a retired federal administrative law judge who survived a childhood rife with physical, sexual and emotional abuse followed by 20 years of hard core alcohol and drug addiction. She suffered never-ending feelings of abandonment, danger and marginalization.

“At the time, I felt like my pain was so deep and so wide that I wasn’t ever going to be able to have a normal life,” she recalls. “I was so committed to my meth and I started shooting up within six months at the beginning of my senior year of high school. When I graduated from high school, that began essentially 20 years of a struggle with addiction.”

Yet, she persevered through high school and college.

“School has always my one special place. It’s where I got a lot of positive attention. Teachers always took notice of me. I got special privileges, you know, because I did so well and so that was really something that was sort of a natural trait that I had that was actually valued and I valued it as well.”

She made it into law school, dropped out, then rejoined, finally tackling her addiction in her 30’s to become a lawyer and later, a judge. She writes about it in stark terms in her memoir From Junkie to Judge: One Woman’s Triumph Over Trauma and Addiction.  Now 30 years sober and living a stable life in the San Francisco Bay area, Mary Beth tells her story with candor and self-deprecation. It will hook you and reel you in. She is also an advocate for hope and recovery and offers several resources, listed below, to help those trying to overcome addiction and other trauma. Scroll down and watch and listen to our conversation.

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