Despite seven years of relapses, musician and actor Chrissy Strong made good on her name, willing herself to keep trying. Her biggest motivators came in the form of a son, nearing 20 now, and fellow women in recovery who showed her how to get back up again.
“Usually, treatment is made up of more men than women,” she says, “but at the end of the day, these women in my life have given me hope. And they’ve given me an example of what it’s like to be a mom and I can include that into my life with [my son].”
Outside of motherhood, Strong channeled her newfound clarity into art. Her album Bones dropped in 2021, and she worked as an actor on the recent Cleveland-filmed White Noise.
A Problem for Kids, Too
For Strong, substance abuse started early. “I think it typically starts at a young age,” she says. “It’s not like I had these major issues as a teenager — it’s not like I was afraid to not pay my mortgage or my bills — but those issues that I go through, that I went through, those were huge.” She had no coping mechanisms to deal with her stressors, and she found comfort in the instant relief a joint or a shot could bring her. It was just easier.
Talking as a Family
Now with her own child, Strong leads by example. Her parents were in recovery themselves, but the structured preventions introduced to her at a young age went in one ear and out the other. “The counseling that I went to and the Alateen meetings (for teens of alcoholic parents) that I went to didn’t [help], not at that point in time,” she remembers. While 12-step programs became a helpful guide later in life, she takes a more hands-on approach in talking with her son. “What didn’t work for me was being coy, kind of in a bubble that they put me in,” she says. “I approached it in a way of just being honest right away, [considering] his age, what he could handle. But I had to be mom and dad, so I had to do it all. I just talked about addiction, I had to talk to him about sex and condoms. I didn’t balk at that ... I didn’t cringe out. I just went into it with love and hope and honesty.”
That honesty provided the necessary puzzle piece the artist needed in her life, as well. She describes the way an addict, or at least herself, might lie about their time, hide the way they’re feeling or struggle communicating with people. “I guess being rigorously honest was tough for me,” she recalls, “and following simple directions. Like, ‘Hey, don’t get a job right away, you can’t handle money,’ you know. Being really vulnerable was rough for me. And I think that’s an issue for a lot of other people, too. It’s really about being rigorously honest ... it’s vital.” She credits this openness with keeping her sober through life’s stressors, referencing again the women in her life whom she talks to when she needs help with the heavy lifting.