Sober together: How recovery strengthened a Kentucky couple’s relationship
Struggles give meaning to in sickness and in health
NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. (WTVQ/Press Release) – In sickness and in health is a vow taken to heart for a Kentucky couple overcoming drug and alcohol addiction to begin a sober, happy life together.
David and Katelyn Prather of Nicholasville have seen the best and the worst of each other since meeting two years ago when they were living in addiction. In that time, they have relied on each other, their faith, and a supportive sober community as they explore the meaning of love and commitment in recovery.
A slow burn and a fast drop
Despite very different upbringings – one from a happy family, the other a ward of the state – Katelyn and David were each gripped by addiction early on in their young lives.
David grew up around substance use and the mindset that drugs and alcohol were all part of a party lifestyle. When his parents lost custody of him as a result of their own addictions, David found himself in foster care and bouncing around the homes of extended family members.
“I was a troubled kid,” he said, recalling how he fell into the same patterns he had witnessed at home. Soon, he surrounded himself by people who smoked, drank, and used pills and adopted those same behaviors.
“If I wasn’t locked up in some type of boys’ camp or juvenile center, I was partying,” he said.
When David turned 18, the leniency of being young dissipated, and the years of “partying” and petty crime caught up with him and landed him behind bars for 10 years. David’s sentence could have been reduced with the completion of a substance use treatment program, he said, but he never managed to make it through without relapsing.
Upon his release, he tried to stay sober but found himself drinking again. For a few years, he functioned in addiction and held down a job, but even that charade would not last.
For Katelyn, who grew up in an average, loving family that attended church regularly, addiction was a faster fall. At 16, she found herself in her first relationship with a young man who ended up being a drug trafficker.
“I was just curious, so young and naïve,” she said. “I had never seen anything like that before, I had never even had a drink of beer or anything, but in a blink of an eye I’m with somebody trafficking heroin and I’m trying it.”
From that moment, Katelyn lived in addiction for a decade, finding only brief moments of sobriety but never truly able to recover.
A budding romance and a relapse
When the couple first met, Katelyn was newly sober again, but David was still actively struggling with alcoholism. As young love blossomed, the couple spent more time together, and Katelyn ended up relapsing.
“It was a downward spiral for a few months,” David recalled as the two worked to navigate their relationship while in active addiction. For Katelyn, the relapse pushed her to pursue change more seriously.
“I was sick and tired of being sick and tired; of living like that and going through the same cycle” of recovery and relapse, she said. With her sights still set on sobriety, she decided to give rehab another try. David, however, was not yet ready to take that step.
“I loved Katelyn and I wanted to be with Katelyn,” he said, and he tried to make it work. “I wound up going to rehab for two days to detox, but I didn’t commit to it. I ended up coming back home and I kept drinking.”
In May 2020, Katelyn joined a program at Isaiah House Treatment Center, a faith-based recovery center in Kentucky that had recently opened a women’s center in Harrodsburg. The program helped Katelyn become sober, transition into a sober living space, and offered her employment in an environment that would support her recovery.
Katelyn took a job with Isaiah House working in admissions and helping other women connect with the resources they needed to turn their lives around. The opportunity further opened Katelyn’s eyes to the possibilities of life outside of addiction. Soon, she realized it was a life she not only wanted for herself but one she wanted with and for David, with whom she had kept in contact.
From afar, David watched the woman he loved change for the better and achieve a life he didn’t think he was capable of doing himself. After months of encouragement and with a sober community at her side, Katelyn finally convinced David to enter treatment at Isaiah House.
“After a while of her talking about it, it grew on me,” he said of Isaiah House. “I guess I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.”
Katelyn told him how the program was faith-based and offered other resources to help him stay sober, such as counseling, workforce development, and educational classes. David pursued the program with reluctance, given his many unsuccessful attempts at recovery elsewhere, but it lived up to Katelyn’s promises.
“They made me remember the happiness I once had of being around people, loving myself and what life really was about,” David said of his treatment experience with Isaiah House. He felt reawakened without the weight of active addiction and was finally surrounded by the support he needed. For the first time, long-term recovery seemed possible and perhaps it was possible in his relationship, too.
When a spouse or partner is in addiction, emotional, physical, financial and legal repercussions of that addiction strain the relationship, sometimes beyond repair. When both partners are in addiction or when one partner is trying to maintain sobriety while another is actively using, the struggle is even greater.
In a scenario that would have spelled a relationship’s demise for many couples, David and Katelyn found the push and the person they each needed to guide them through. As they continue to support one another in recovery they are thankful for how their relationship has changed as a result.
“We both surrendered and allowed God to move in our lives and take the wheel and drive,” Katelyn said. “Our life was a mess, but every day is a daily reprieve.”
The couple married in June and is building a life together in sobriety.
For Katelyn, recovery reunited her with the family whose trust she lost in active addiction and gave her a chance at supportive love. She is proud of herself and of David and how far they have come together.
For David, living a sober life with Katelyn is the family life he once thought unattainable.
“One of the highlights of our days when we were drinking and partying was going to the liquor store,” he said. “Now, one of the highlights of my days is when we sit down to dinner every night and we say a prayer. We take turns. One night I’ll say it and the next night she will say it.”
David never thought he would be saying grace at the dinner table, sober and happy with his wife by his side, but that is the reality recovery through Isaiah House has given him. The Prathers feel as though they have been born anew, unrecognizable from their past selves but still very much in love.
“To watch how much we have grown together, that’s something that says a lot,” David said. “And to watch Katelyn grow every day in her work with other women. It’s amazing.”