After facing addiction to meth, crack, tobacco, opiates, and benzodiazepines, our incredible guest Coco has embarked on a journey of self-discovery and healing. She credits the use of the cannabis plant and the love and support of her husband, Shannon, with helping her overcome her struggles. Tune in to hear more about their inspiring story of perseverance and hope.
Table of Contents
- Release Date: Monday, June 5th, 2023
- Episode Number: Season 1, Episode 20
- Special Guest: A couples interview with Coco & Shannon
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Why You Will Love This Episode
In today’s episode, we have a special couple’s interview today with husband and wife Coco and Shannon.
Join us and listen as Coco shares her incredible story of leaving behind a life of addiction and transitioning to a healthy life with the help of cannabis.
She talks about being introduced to crack cocaine at 18 and then struggling with addiction to opiates and benzos. In 2007, she was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and was prescribed pain medication.
In 2012, she had a TIA and was labeled an addict for cannabis on a pain contract and sent home. This opened her eyes to the alternatives and made her realize the problem associated with traditional healthcare.
Today, Coco is off all medications except for some blood pressure and diabetes medications. She uses cannabis topically and likes edibles to help her sleep without nightmares.
When asked what advice she’d give to those struggling with prescription medications or other drugs, she says to stand strong and that it can be done. She’s most proud of her children and husband and that without them, she couldn’t do this.
Listen in to hear how Coco and Shannon have gone through a lifetime of things but have come out on the other end and are now getting to reap the rewards of getting through those tough times.
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Coco: I got to have my daughter utter the words, “Do you want to know what long-term meth recovery looks like? Look at my mom.” Have your baby be able to be that proud of you.
Announcer: Welcome to the Well With Cannabis Podcast, a show dedicated to telling the life-changing stories of those who live well with cannabis all while teaching you how to do the same. Meet your host, Emily Kyle, a registered dietitian nutritionist turned certified holistic cannabis practitioner. Emily changed her life for the better with the help of the cannabis plant, and now she’s committed to helping others do the same.
Tune in each week to hear heartwarming stories and gain the knowledge you need to feel connected, inspired, and supported on your own cannabis journey. Whether you’re a new cannabis consumer or a lifetime lover, you’ll benefit from these uplifting tales of real-life journeys that will show you how you, too, can live your best life well with cannabis.
Disclaimer: Hi there. Before we jump into today’s episode, I wanted to share a note on potentially sensitive content. The episodes on the Well With Cannabis Podcast are created for adult audiences only. We will, at times, cover sensitive topics, including but not limited to suicide, abuse, mental illness, sex, drugs, alcohol, psychedelics, and the obvious use of plant medicine. Explicit language may be used occasionally. Please refrain from watching or listening to the show if you’re likely to be offended or adversely impacted by any of these topics.
The information on this show is for informational and educational purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice. If any of the content on this podcast has brought up anything for you, please reach out or speak to a professional or someone you trust.
Emily: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of the Well With Cannabis Podcast; I am excited; we are doing a couple’s interview today. We have Coco and Shannon here with us. Hello, you both. Thank you for joining us.
Coco: Thank you for having us.
Emily: Now, Coco, you have shared with me your personal story, which is incredible, and it talks about leaving this very different life behind for this beautiful life with cannabis. Are you willing to share a little bit about your history with us?
Coco: It starts really young; I got pregnant way too young. I lost my first child to adoption, which puts my life in a weird position. I turned around, got pregnant again, and it was my second child, and he was born stillborn.
Emily: So sorry.
Coco: It was because of my meth addiction, and I’ll tell you, that stuff will grab a hold of you and grab a hold of you fast. I was introduced at 18 years old, after he was born, to crack cocaine. It was 1998 when I was able to leave that behind, but I smoked like a chimney and got hooked on opiates and benzos. So 2007, they tripped across an inoperable brain tumor. Yes, left ventricle.
Coco: It’s just a meningioma. They are the best kind of brain tumor to have, okay? So simple; they stay in the lining of the brain. Everything else. I just got mine in the worst place possible, which was the ventricle of the brain, making it inoperable. At that point, I had some dental work left in my mouth, and they were able to pin me down by that and do one radiation treatment.
Coco: One gamma knife radiation. In 2012, thinking I was a baddie, I decided I was going to smoke one more cigarette with a nicotine patch on, with a full deck of meds on file. I had what they call a TIA, one of the little mini-strokes, and I got caught with cannabis in my system. He had panicked because I wasn’t acting right, and he sent me to the hospital and begged the doctor to check on that brain tumor. And they caught that little TIA on a CT scan. So I got labeled an addict, for cannabis, on a pain contract, and sent home.
Emily: These pain management clinics, the more I hear about them, the more terrible they are. It’s crazy what they do to people.
Coco: Yes, ma’am, it is. Some people say, “Well, they have their reason,” and they do. I’m not saying that because some people like me get addicted to pills. Shannon’s mom suffered from the same problem. That’s what he was raised with, was a mom addict. But it opened my eyes to, hold up, there is an alternative, and I see there’s a problem associated with these meds.
Laws in Washington changed, and I started joking about coming back to Washington to be doing what I’m doing right now. Then it can be done. That’s it, you know? I was anti-marijuana. I was the one that fell prey to believing heroin, crack, and marijuana are all equal. So I often joke with people that for my 18th birthday, well, you know what, trap, why not? So yeah, it’s a journey.
Emily: Quite the journey, you poor thing, which is like, that’s terrible. So what does life look like today? You’re off of all medications, you say? Congratulations.
Coco: I’m left on some blood pressure medications and some diabetes medications. Other than that, it’s just Depakote, that mood stabilizer. That feels pretty good.
Emily: It’s amazing. I mean, that is amazing. You have gone through so much, and to be here and so well. Tell me a little bit about your cannabis in your day-to-day lifestyle right now. What does that look like for you?
Coco: It depends on what time of day. Both during the day and at night, I use it.
Shannon: She uses it topically.
Coco: I use it topically. He uses a pen. I don’t do well with the pen—real high, higher concentration. My little brain doesn’t do well. I like edibles because the edibles help me sleep and not have nightmares.
Emily: Absolutely, absolutely. Oh, my gosh, I’m so happy for you that you found cannabis and have made this transformation. If other people are listening and they’re struggling with prescription medications or other drugs, what advice do you give them to get to where you are today?
Coco: Stand strong. It can be done. I don’t know what else to say there.
Emily: I’m so proud of you. It’s all you have to say. You have made such a change and such a difference. I am so happy for you that you’re doing so well. Let me transition. I like to ask all my guests the same four questions. Are you ready for them?
Coco: I am.
Emily: Yay. All right, so the first one is, what are you most proud of in your life?
Coco: My children. My husband. Without them, I’m just an addict.
Emily: You’re so much more than that. You’re a mom; you’re a wife; you’re happy; you’re healthy.
Coco: My kids with my husband, I get to be this amazing rockstar recovery wife, grandma, mom, community member, willing to say, you hurt, my heart understands. I got to have my daughter utter the words, “You want to know what long-term meth recovery looks like? Look at my mom.” Have your baby be able to be that proud of you. I say I’m proud of them because, without them, I couldn’t do this.
Emily: You need that support, absolutely.
Coco: They accept me for my broken, is what I say? But yeah, proud of everything we’ve gotten to overcome together.
Emily: Oh, my gosh, yes. I mean, a lifetime of things. Look at you now. You have a beautiful home and a puppy.
Coco: Right, we have that. He dealt with a lifetime of things at 18. I dealt with a lifetime of things at 18. Then we met, and we have dealt with a lifetime of things. And as grandparents, we’re getting to reap the rewards of getting through those things.
Coco: Oh, that’s beautiful. So proud of you. That’s just amazing to sit on the other side and be able to say you’re proud and have a beautiful family; not everybody gets that. So happy for you.
Coco: Shannon met us in 2003. He went from prison to barely being free, met me, a different kind of prison, and put a ring on my finger. And when we got married, my family was against it.
Coco: Oh, yeah. When I was putting on my gown, my mom came in and asked, “Are you sure?” Yes. I told her that if she would shut up and judge based on how much he loves me and her grandchildren, she’d love him just as much. And when he hit his knee to give each kid a ring to signify during the ceremony, and then the music got played too long, and the kids led us into this hug, and everybody thought that part. Not a dry eye. So at the end of the wedding, when you walk by and get hugs from everybody, my mom wraps her arms around me and says, “You better not screw this up.”
Emily: How long have you been married for now?
Coco: Since 2004.
Emily: Oh, my gosh, it’s amazing—almost 20 years.
Coco: Right? I know; I’ve put up with him for that long. We got to move back to Canton, Illinois, where he was born.
Shannon: Just for a little while.
Coco: For a little while. That’s where my TIA happened and most of my pill addiction.
Shannon: She was so, let’s put it this way, she was so messed up on pills and lack of sleep that she plopped her head down on the table, and she had her teeth, and she broke it in half.
Emily: Oh, you poor thing.
Coco: Didn’t know it.
Shannon: She was so messed up. I was doing the roof in record time, and she swore up and down that it took me weeks and months to do this part. And we had only been there for maybe an hour at a time.
Coco: I would lie down because all I could do was be like, “I’m tired, I’m tired.” I’d lie down, and when I would wake up, I would think it was a brand new day. I woke up, and nothing had been done. Like none of the dishes had been done. None of the drywall had been done, you know, and yeah.
Shannon: She did so bad that her son looked at me, like, “Quit, Dad, I can’t help. Get help. She was on ten 120mg of Vicodin.
Coco: Yeah. We were part of that astronomically high pill mill problem they had.
Emily: Were they from a doctor? Was a doctor prescribing them?
Coco: Yes, ma’am.
Shannon: And that was just the Vicodin. That was not the Percocet. That was not the opiate, the benzos, the muscle relaxer. Yes.
Coco: These all came from the same doctor.
Emily: Do you think that doctor ever feels bad? Like, it’s crazy to me that these doctors existed.
Coco: I would love to ask him face-to-face. I really would. I would love to ask him. If you go back to the Illinois area, I got hooked up with this doctor because I met somebody who said, “Hey, go here if you like pills.”
Emily: Oh, my gosh.
Coco: Okay, and I’m not going to say that I don’t suffer from addiction. And I did. And my husband has pain problems and deserved his pain meds, but because of what his mother went through-
Shannon: I won’t take them.
Coco: He won’t take them.
Shannon: I prefer; I’ve got a degenerative disc, bad knees, and some kind of pain in my toe. I ain’t going to lie, I have pain everywhere, and I prefer to use cannabis instead of-
Coco: And that includes ibuprofen, Tylenol, anything like that.
Shannon: I don’t like to take any of those. They barely get me to take the medications I got for my psychiatric doctor.
Coco: He still has nightmare issues, but I’ve been blessed that those are kind of working their way through. He still has them, but yeah. I didn’t have the control to leave his pills alone.
Emily: Right. The fact that doctors are not held responsible for what they’ve done is just crazy. How many people have had a similar experience to you but aren’t here to talk about it today? The fact that you’re here to be able even to discuss this is a miracle. I’m so glad.
Coco: I’m here to be able to discuss this with you after hearing things such as, “You want to die? Take that.”
Shannon: From a doctor.
Coco: From a doctor.
Emily: The doctor?
Coco: There is where we will just stop. The fact that I’m here to have this discussion with you, yes, it is the state of the healthcare situations that we have, is beyond ridiculous.
Shannon: You know, we’ve only answered the first question.
Emily: It moves in perfectly to the second question. The second question is, and I’m sorry because it’s everybody’s least favorite question. Everyone’s like, why’d you ask me that? What would your life look like without cannabis?
Coco: Addiction takes many forms. Had I not tripped across cannabis, what would I have tripped across? That was lucky. I got started when I was younger. There are many people out there that weren’t blessed enough to trip. They tripped across heroin. And yes, I can proudly tell every phlebotomist that I run across, you all, this right here is from you, and proudly point to the inside of my vein. I always tell them the first time I say you, and I’m like, “And not you personally.” That’s my fear. I have an ex-husband who died with a needle in his arm. I probably would’ve myself.
Emily: Thank God for cannabis. I’m so glad you both have it, and I’m so glad that you’re here sharing this because how many people could trip over? It would be amazing if more people could find cannabis. By sharing this and how much it has helped you, I hope it reaches somebody else and helps them too. You’re brave to share this.
Coco: I have been what they call the black sheep of the family for many, many years. As of three years ago, I am no longer the black sheep of the family. I am the rainbow. There are more cannabis, sparkles, and jazz fingers. Let’s eat.
Emily: I love, oh, my gosh, what an amazing outlook. That is perfect. Now, the next question. If you could go back 10, 20, or 30 years ago and give yourself a piece of advice related to cannabis or not, what would it be?
Coco: 30 years ago would’ve been when he had an accident that cost a man his life. And 30 years ago is when I lost my son’s life. For him, I don’t know what he would’ve thought, but-
Shannon: I don’t think I’d have changed a thing. Seriously.
Coco: How can you?
Shannon: If you change or tell yourself anything, the repercussions are astronomical. You change the whole fact that where everything in your whole life goes. You never know. I could have ended up being somebody that was deadly against cannabis instead, somebody that’s really poor health. That questionnaire was harder than the rest of the questions.
Coco: If I could go back 10 years, we could go back 10 years. I don’t think of any words; I’d want to say any word, just smile and chill.
Shannon: I would.
Coco: This is a man who jokes about returning to prison to make his life easier.
Emily: Oh, my gosh, you guys sound like you’ve been married for almost 20 years, in the best way possible.
Coco: In no way, shape, or form did I ever see me getting to have that little old couple bickering back and forth? I’ve been married for 110 years, you know?
Emily: It’s special to grow old with someone. To have each other is beautiful.
Coco: Right. He’s a really awesome guy. He’s perfect for me. He knows how to make me laugh, even when I don’t want to. Seems to know when I need it the most. Stuck at my side for all this time and through everything, and getting this dream of having conversations about my own child lost and not being ugly crying. Being able to say my son, Ernest Richard, my angel. I get to share that with the granddaughter that I got and the grandson who came 29 years later. One day shy of 20. And he’s a rainbow baby.
Emily: Oh, how perfect.
Coco: Thank you, so yeah. It was only in 2018 that I was going to be myself. I was done. I hurt; I was done. I was being treated poorly by doctor after doctor after doctor, polydrug. And fine, you guys want to be that way, then here, have every medication you have beyond that. Not wise to do when there are blood pressure meds, but it turns out part of my medical problems that were putting me on a fast track to death. It was a screwed-up reaction to my blood pressure medication, the doctor’s meds. Yeah, my allergy list, the meds, is like a mile long.
Emily: Oh, gosh.
Coco: And we’re not sure anymore if it’s the meds themselves or it could be a binding agent, like on other things. I can take Tylenol, children’s Tylenol, but the adult that makes it the pills.
Shannon: I remember getting my knee done at Thanksgiving, and I kept refusing the pills and got stuck in the bedroom. All I have is a TV. Everybody else gets to be out in the front row. And my leg is propped up, and she is the clumsiest woman you ever will meet. “Honey, you need something? Let me get you something.”
Coco: Stop, ride on with me. You can have a spot this big that is painful to touch and not speak a word of where it is. And I am the kind of person that can walk up and find it.
Emily: Oh, gosh.
Coco: That’s all those experiences is why I am; why the medical community needs to have some major changes. I’m not saying there are not good people in the medical community. You know, it was a nurse that stood me up on my feet and went, “I believe you, you spicy little bitch. Go change the world.” I’m fully aware that there are good doctors. It was a fluke that the one doctor had a bad feeling. When I came in with that migraine that tripped, normal migraine, and instead of just pumping me full of crap and sending me home, he asked, “Can I do a scan? Check something out. Nothing should come of it, but can I just check something out and see if there’s something wrong? Should I check the brain scan?” Right there in the hospital.
Emily: Gosh, so lucky they did.
Coco: I remember the doctor coming in, putting his hand on my knee, waking me up because I was out of it. And the look on his face was very concerning if you weren’t on heavily medicated things. Then he looks at me and says, “You have a deep-seated sinus infection, and there’s a mass on the scan that you’re going to need to have an MRI on.” Right?
And I’m like, I looked at him, and I laughed. I had been, we had been trying to get an MRI of my little brain for a couple of years from my doctor. My doctor’s office was closed on Friday. The next day was Friday. There was no way. I went home, I passed out, I woke up the next day, and my doctor was calling me saying, “Your MRI is at 3:30 today.” In a three-month period, I went from relatively healthy to sleep apnea, diabetes the next month, inoperable brain tumor the following month.
Oh, and then let’s spice it up and share some of the bad. My grandmother fell, who I’m like, this close. Snapped her neck, like clear up at the top, right? Grandma snapped her neck, and then I had to have Gamma Knife radiation. So 2007 was kind of a rough year, but we’ve made it.
Emily: You’ve made it. Thank God. I mean, you’ve made it through so much. It’s unbelievable. To be here and share it with us; it is so special. You’ve overcome so much, and I appreciate you sharing that because other people need to hear and be inspired by what you have done.
Coco: I appreciate that. Next question, please.
Emily: Right, it’s our very last one. Are you ready? If you could be remembered for just one thing in the cannabis space or not, what would it be?
Coco: Being the kind of person that fully believes well-behaved women don’t make history, let’s make history.
Emily: Oh, my gosh, absolutely. I hope we’re making history here today. I hope so many people listen to this episode and feel your story, feel inspired, and see that it’s absolutely possible to go to hell and back and to be here today with a husband and a family and a home and a dog. You’re looking so amazing. I’m so proud of you, and I’m so happy for you.
Coco: Thank you, I appreciate it. Right, getting to do some positive things is pretty amazing.
Emily: I’m so happy for both of you. And I can’t thank you enough for coming here and sharing this and hopefully impacting other people’s lives as well.
Coco: I hope that it helped. I really do.
Emily: I believe it will. I believe we’re meant to have this conversation and to be here today. And you were meant to be here today to have this conversation and to get it out into the world to show people that it’s absolutely possible to live this amazing life you have today.
Coco: Right; Mom used to call me her little quitter, you know? When you have that kind of quit list, I quit things that kill most people. I got to admit, just to be able to say that. This year, we’ll all have 31 years off crack, 25 off meth, 11 off of tobacco, three off of opiates and benzos, or four off opiates and benzos.
Emily: That is incredible. Coco that is amazing. I’m so proud of you.
Coco: Shannon hasn’t had meth for what? You were 15 when you used to do that?
Coco: I just found out that his drug of choice, this child, was meth and cannabis. Shouldn’t be married for 20 years.
Emily: You learn something new every day about your partner.
Coco: Every day that you learn is not a waste of a day, is what my grandfather always used to say, so.
Emily: Oh, so true. Thank you so much for being here today. I really appreciate it.
Coco: I appreciate it, too. Thank you. Have a great rest of your day, okay?
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