Miss for America, Kassie Perkins, Visits Desert Hope
Kassie Perkins understands what it’s like to have a family member struggle with substance use disorder and the constant pressure to hide it from the world. For over 20 years, her father misused drugs, hiding his addiction from everyone except his close family. When he finally lost his job as a result of substance use, he and his family were forced to confront the problem.
It wasn’t an easy process but it’s one that was well worth the effort. Now, Kassie and her father—who is over 5 years sober—have the type of relationship she never could have imagined when the situation was at its worst. The experience has inspired her to share what she’s learned with the world.
Perkins has used her platform as “Miss for America” to advocate for addiction treatment and ending the stigma surrounding substance use disorder.
Kassie Perkins was crowned Miss for America in 2020 but she’s been passionately dedicated to noble causes like improving childhood literacy for many years. 10 years ago, she partnered with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to give free books to children under 5 years old. Now, she’s spreading awareness about addiction treatment and prevention—specifically how it affects families. Sometimes, it can cause lasting trauma and pain, which is something Kassie dealt with for decades.
Having a parent that struggles with addiction can leave someone with an unbearable amount of emotional baggage. Sadly, this often leads to that person developing substance use disorder themselves; in fact, children of someone with addiction issues are twice as likely to grapple with addiction. For Kassie Perkins, counseling helped her find forgiveness and let go of the distrust, resentment, and anger she felt toward her father.
She was able to categorize what she’s learned into 3 main points that helped her on her journey and that she stills keeps in mind:
- Addiction is a chronic illness, not a choice. While addiction carries a considerable amount of stigma, people dealing with this disease benefit from love and compassion. It’s also important for family members not to blame themselves when someone they love struggles with substance use disorder. “Recognizing my father’s addiction as a disease rather than a choice, helped me to understand just how difficult it is to recover, and it’s given me a newfound respect for those who succeed,” she wrote in a post for the TODAY Parenting Team.
- Don’t dwell on the past. Enjoy the present and what the future has to offer. Don’t forget the warning signs and triggers that can cause your loved one to stumble in their recovery but be sure to appreciate the moment and how much the relationship has healed.
- Forgiveness helps everyone. Letting go of that hurt and anger not only benefits the person it’s directed toward but one harboring those feelings toward someone else.
Last year, Kassie shared her story, what she’s learned from her experiences, and vital resources for people undergoing similar struggles as part of a 4-part series facilitated by American Addiction Centers (AAC) called “Recovery is Relative.”
Recently, she visited Desert Hope Treatment Center in Las Vegas to meet with staff and patients as part of her continued outreach efforts. She hopes that by continuing to spread awareness and compassion, people struggling with addiction and their loved ones can become inspired and better equipped to face this problem.
If you or a loved one is dealing with addiction, it’s not too late to find hope. Often, it just requires some help from dedicated and compassionate professionals. Please reach out to an admissions navigator at to explore treatment options.