Women Beyond Bars: Judy Utley

Photograph and video courtesy of West Virginia University Reed College of Media Fall 2019 and Spring 2020 Multimedia Storytelling students

The Importance of Support Systems

When she battled addiction in the 80s and 90s, Judy Utley found it hard to get the resources needed to recover. She spent time in prison for multiple felonies and frequented rehab facilities until getting sober 22 years ago.

Having felony convictions on her record has made it hard for her to find reliable work. She and her husband are the primary care providers for three of her grandchildren, because of her son’s battle with addiction. One of the grandchildren is a step-grandchild.

“Because she’s not our blood, we get no state help whatsoever,” Judy said.”If I did not have a support system, I would have gone and used drugs. I was just overwhelmed.”

Judy uses her recovery experience to help others on their journeys to sobriety. She volunteers as a recovery coach in the Lost Creek, West Virginia area, for Celebrate Recovery, a Christian-based recovery network focused on helping individuals recover from addiction.