North Dakota’s First Lady Raising Awareness Of Drug Addiction

Kathryn Helgaas

North Dakota’s First Lady is using her platform to shine a light on drug addiction throughout the state.

First Lady Kathryn Helgaas Burgum, the wife of newly-elected Governor Doug Burgum, recently spoke to the Bismarck Tribune about her experiences in recovery and staying sober for more than 15 years. Although she declined to go into specific details about her alcoholism, Burgum admitted a family history of addiction by stating that “it was just part of my DNA that was going to show up at some point.”

She eventually sought help through an inpatient program at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Although there were a few relapses in the early stages of her sobriety, she eventually won her battle with her addiction. She went on to earn her MBA and worked in marketing and human resources for over 25 years.

“I know that I am blessed to be where I am in my life because I am sober,” she told the Tribune. “I really believe I have a higher power who directed me down this path where I am now.”

It seems Helgaas Burgum’s personal experience has informed her husband, Governor Doug Burgum’s views of addiction and drug abuse. “We treat addiction like a crime,” he said, according to the Tribune. “We can’t solve the problem by building bigger and more prisons. This is going to take faith-based, nonprofits, private sector, individuals, families, everybody working together.”