|Fort Thomas resident Trevor Steinhauser launches coaching services for those struggling with addiction.|
Trevor Steinhauser, a 1996 Highlands High School grad, seemingly had everything going for him: He was co-owner of a successful family business (Steinhauser Inc., a Newport-based commercial printer that opened in 1905), had a wife and three children, and had the support of a family that has lived in Fort Thomas for four generations. But then he became an addict. And at rock bottom, he feared he was going to lose it all.
But Steinhauser is one of the lucky ones. He got help. He’s in recovery. And earlier this year, he had an epiphany: “I wanted to help other people struggling with addiction,” he says. And with that, he has begun offering recovery coaching and intervention services, and is dedicated to helping adults overcome addiction.
Steinhauser had many concussions as a child, including an accident that resulted in a skull fracture at 18 months old. He later learned that these head injuries set his brain development on a crash course for disaster. Steinhauser also suffered from mental health issues beginning early on in his childhood, including anxiety and depression.
“When you couple significant brain trauma with my predisposition/genetics, I was a very high-risk case for mental health and substance abuse problems,” he says. “I drank at 15. I smoked pot at 15. I partied in high school and college. I was an underachiever. I knew I was going to go in my family business so I had no motivation to do anything. My only dream was to go and be in the movies and on TV, and that dream was dashed. So there was even less motivation to do anything but party my butt off and just coast.”
Steinhauser managed to coast for a long time. After graduating from University of Kentucky with a degree in communication and information studies, he began working in the family business. Despite working at a job far from the lights of Hollywood, things were good—on paper. “I got to work with my sister and my dad every day,” Steinhauser says. “My dad was my best friend.”
Steinhauser married the love of his life in 2005. But also in 2005, his dad was diagnosed with brain cancer. “We lost him in 2006,” Steinhauser says. “And that’s when the wheels started coming off for me.”
His depression heightened. “I wasn’t really happy where I was professionally,” Steinhauser says, adding he wasn't really happy with life, in general.
And yet, life moved on. “We had our first child in 2007 and our second daughter in 2009,” he says. “Still I was depressed. Then I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder in 2008. After that, I nose-dived into an even greater depression.”
And still, life pressed forward. “We had a son in 2013,” Steinhauser says. “I had all these great things happening, things you’d think would make somebody very happy, but I couldn’t snap out of it.”
Such is the nature of mental health – and addiction. It’s a disease that clings tight, no matter how much the carrier wants rid of it.
In 2014 Steinhauser started using cocaine. “This is with young kids and a wife,” he says. “Very bad decisions were being made. But with addiction, it’s not a decision. It’s a disease. I had demons in my mind. I was trying to cover up my pain. My only concern was squelching the beast that was inside of me. It got out of control in a hurry and took me places that I hope nobody ever has to go."
In June 2015, Steinhauser’s sister and several friends intervened. Steinhauser had now been on a severely destructive path for 1-1/2 years. And he wanted a new path to follow. “My mind and my body were addicted,” he said. “It was a living hell.”
The intervention didn’t work. He relapsed. “I lied to them,” he says. “I spun webs of lies.”
In October 2015, law enforcement got involved. “That stopped everything,” he says, adding that “horrific consequences” were on the horizon. “I went to rehab.”
While in rehab, Steinhauser had an epiphany. Yes, he made many bad decisions. But his head injuries and genetics, which play a large role in mental health, also played roles – large ones. “I figured out why I’m like this,” he says. “Why I was like this as a kid, too. All the pieces came together. And not a lot of people are fortunate enough to have the pieces put together. Then I went to work on myself. And that’s when it really gets tough.”
For a year, Steinhauser says he worked therapy “like crazy.” He worked on himself and his relationships, making amends. In January 2017, he told his story to the community via Story Matters at Fort Thomas Coffee. “It was my way of finally letting everybody know – this is what happened to me,” he says. “I was petrified of what the community was going to think of me. Our family goes four generations deep and I was going to be the one that was going to screw it all up. And Fort Thomas can be a ruthless place.”
But by January 2017, Steinhauser was (finally) comfortable with himself. And ready to help people by sharing his story. And to his great surprise, the community embraced him. “I haven’t heard one negative thing,” he says. “Not one.”
And now, Steinhauser wants to use what he’s learned in recovery to help others. While he’s earned some credentials (he’s a Kentucky Certified Peer Support Specialist, a Certified ARISE Interventionist CAI-I and a professionally trained Recovery Coach via Recovery Coach University), he believes the best education he’s received has been living through it.
Throughout childhood, his teen years and adulthood, Steinhauser has seen countless therapists. But it wasn’t until he was 37 years old and in rehab that he found one that clicked – it was a therapist who also was in recovery. “Being able to relate to someone is priceless,” he says.
In the past year Steinhauser has helped a couple dear friends who were struggling with addiction get clean and get into therapy. And it worked. He also started a support group in a local Fort Thomas church in October.
Steinhauser plans to meet clients wherever needed – their homes, churches, coffee shops, the library, treatment centers and hospitals. In addition to working with adults struggling with addiction, he also plans to educate families about the disease of addiction and the process of recovery. “I view addiction as a family disease, not an individual’s,” he says. He also strongly believes addiction to be a mental health issue, an idea backed by many scientists, doctors and organizations, including the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “My ultimate goal is to help adults reach long-term recovery and wellness,” Steinhauser says.
This new chapter in Steinhauser’s life doesn’t hold the glamour of Hollywood or the four-generation stability of the family business. But in many ways, it offers something better: The chance to use his life experiences, even the most painful ones, as a way to not only better the lives of others, but save the lives of others.
“I could be in jail right now,” Steinhauser says. “I was probably a month or less away from having a massive attack. I could be dead. So I feel like this was all divine intervention. I have a chance to do something good in the world. I haven’t been able to find my place, ever. My place is not what I’ve been doing up to this point. I feel like this is my calling.”
Steinhauser says he also plans to help others via radio interviews, podcasts and speaking engagements.
“I want to spread the word of hope for addiction,” he says. “I want to break the stigma of addiction. There are a lot of other things I want to do down the road. I’ve been given the opportunity and I’m going to take full advantage of it. I put a lot of people in a lot of tough spots, a lot of danger, a lot of embarrassment. So I’m just very grateful, very grateful, and fortunate. Because addiction can happen to anyone. I was raised in the most loving home, in a successfully and wealthy family. And I was an addict.”
If you or a loved one needs help, you can reach Steinhauser at (859) 743-5649 and Steinhauser.Trevor@gmail.com.