Growing up as the daughter of legendary news anchor Joan Lunden in the glamorous environment of New York City, Jamie Krauss Hess was enamored with “anything sparkly” and lived the life of a New York party girl. Only, as an addict, she partied harder than any of her peers and was destroying her privileged life in the process.
After graduating from New York University, Jamie started her career as a nightclub publicist, representing some of New York’s biggest nightclubs including the now-closed hotspot Crobar. The industry encouraged and rewarded heavy partying, which she embraced wholeheartedly.
Throughout this time, Jamie was also a competitive equestrian and international show jumper, having won prestigious competitions including a silver medal in the 1999 Junior Olympics. However, shortly after that, she suffered a serious accident while riding and severely broke her leg. It was then that her addiction really started to take a hold of her.
After getting a prescription for Vicodin from her physician, Jamie began what she describes as a “love affair” with opioid narcotics and prescription drugs. At some point, she realized she was addicted and started going to group meetings and trying to live according to spiritual principles. However, looking back now, she doesn’t consider that time to be true sobriety since she was simultaneously taking doctor-prescribed Suboxone meant to treat her opioid dependence. Even once she was off Vicodin, she switched to taking Adderall (a prescription drug for Attention Deficit Disorder that is essentially amphetamines) from a friend’s medicine cabinet.
“I gave myself permission,” she says. “I told myself that a doctor would probably put me on this anyway if I shared my symptoms.” Immediately, the Adderall took hold and she says it was worse than anything she experienced on street drugs. “I had multi-day spans of being awake, with hallucinations, and my whole life was falling apart,” she says. Once a social butterfly, Hess was now an isolated and miserable individual.
All of that ended almost exactly nine years ago when her mother showed up at her New York City apartment and convinced her to go to rehab. “My mom knew for a while that something was not right, but she was fearful to intervene,” Hess aid. “Finally, one day she did the most courageous thing and came banging on my door and insisted I tell her what was going on. We decided together in that moment that I would go to treatment. It was such a brave act of tough love, and I respect and appreciate her so much for taking that action.”
Today, Jamie still works as a full-time publicist, only she’s now representing fitness-related companies instead of nightclubs. Her husband George, 56, is also sober and works in the music industry. Both of them are avid runners and, though the two are not fitness trainers, they have captured a large social media following as @NYCFitFam where they post inspirational photos and messages to their audience.
“I think of all those days when I was sick and tired, weak and struggling, not getting to work on time,” Jamie says. “The novelty of the life we live now has never worn off. Every single day we are so blown away with gratitude. We feel good all the time.”
Along with spirituality, gratitude and mindfulness, the Hess family puts their wellness as a top priority. At the end of the day, whether or not they get those likes or follows, they know they have one perpetual fan watching—their son. “We feel so blessed first and foremost that our son never has to see us drink and use,” she says.