Jenna Washuleski

as told to Kaitlyn Scoville

Pain and Addiction

“I didn’t necessarily know that my siblings had an addiction. I didn’t realize it until I was a teenager. When I was in middle school, I remember seeing them experimenting with drugs, smoking and drinking.  They would have a lot of parties at our house when my mom wasn’t home. They both ended up getting into a lot of trouble when they were in middle and high school. They would steal. Carly was on supervision, the bracelet, in and out of juvie, group homes, and eventually sent to Southern Oaks, a school state prison. She was prescribed Ritalin at 2 years old and learned to abuse it as she got older. At 14 she was smoking marijuana.I think as they started to get older, and things progressively got more deep into the drugs – like in their 20’s – I noticed that it was a daily thing and that they were dependent on it. This is something they needed to function and get through their day. When I was a sophomore in high school, Leah and I would experiment together. We were the closest when I was using with her. She would hand me something like Xanax or Oxycontin and I would take it.  I remember doing Methadone and Suboxone. They made me feel soooo sick like all I wanted to do was throw up. I have thought to myself, ‘How did I not get hooked like my sisters did?’ It was a difficult time for me because part of me wanted to do good, and part of me just wanted to be like the rest of my family because that was the only way to bond with them. If I wanted to hang out with my sisters it’s probably going to be doing something that’s not good. Their addiction was starting to affect my school and my relationships so I decided to take a different path.”

Life in Recovery

“I’m a substance abuse counselor. Addiction has affected me, personally, in every aspect of life. It’s what motivated me to enter this career. I do one-on-one counseling with teenagers and drug court participants. I knew I wanted to work with teenagers and try to help them before their addiction grows to a point where it’s going to destroy everything they have  — like I had to watch with my siblings — and try to cut it off beforehand. I understand what it’s like to be a teenager and want to experiment. It helps me because I’m able to see where they’re coming from, but also see where they could end up going. I remember, when I was younger, Leah had a counselor and she was there for years. I just thought, ‘This counselor must not be very good if she’s still going there and she’s not sober.’ Obviously, I was young and I didn’t really understand that it takes the person to be willing. But that’s what motivated me to go into the field and help others. I love working with people counseling and volunteering at Solutions Recovery, Inc. giving back to people that want to change. I definitely have a better perspective with my job because I’ve seen my sisters go through things, or maybe I’ve even experienced them. What I’ve seen in my career, or even my personal life, is that those struggling with addiction can do some of the worst things I’ve ever heard of, but in recovery, they have done some of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.”

Jenna Washuleski, 28, is a substance abuse counselor. She works with teenagers and adults to help guide them on their path to recovery. She is the founder of H.O.P.E. Group at the Boys and Girls Club of Oshkosh, as well as on the Board of Directors for Solutions Recovery, Inc. She is on the Steering Team for the Winnebago Drug and Alcohol Coalition and is chair for the Prevention and Awareness Action Team. Leah and Carly, who are living in recovery, are working toward a stronger family relationship with Jenna. For more FIXED stories, please visit