November 21, 2012

Local mom works to build new life

PLATTSBURGH — Not long ago, Crystal Crombleholme lived a double life. 

“A mother during the day and an addict at nighttime,” the Plattsburgh woman told fellow participants in Behavioral Health Services North’s Personalized Recovery-Oriented Services program during a recent photography-themed class. 

The class, one of many offered at the organization’s Morrisonville location, meets once every two weeks and is intended to aid in the recovery of individuals who simultaneously battle drug addiction and mental illness.

Participants in the group are given photo assignments designed to help them gain insight into their struggles. They are asked to compose or gather photographs representing themes in their lives and share and discuss those images with the group.  

Also present for the discussions are staff rehab practitioners and retired Plattsburgh City Court Judge Penny Clute, who created the class. 


To represent her past for an assignment titled “Old Life, New Life,” Crombleholme, who spent much of her first 18 years living in youth shelters, presented to the group a photo of herself and her four children. 

To many, the image might have looked like a typical portrait of a happy family. The photo, however, was taken while Crombleholme’s children were visiting her in prison. 

“I started hanging out with the wrong people, and I also suffer from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and have struggled with lack of energy for years, and I took my first line of cocaine when I was 29 and got addicted to it because it gave me energy,” she told the Press-Republican in a separate interview. 

“My addiction started going out of control because I wanted it more and more, so I started selling drugs to get my drugs.”

“It just spun out of control very quickly.”

Before long, Crombleholme, now 34, found herself locked up for possession and sale of drugs — and she lost custody of three of her children. 

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