Growing up in Costa Mesa, Karli Kuhns was like any other kid.
She played soccer and loved hanging out with her younger brother. She attended Ensign Intermediate and Newport Harbor high schools.
However, as Kuhns approached adolescence, her attention veered. She talked back to teachers and her grades weren't something she bragged about.
In seventh grade, when offered alcohol and marijuana, she tried both. By her freshman year of high school, Kuhn was injecting speed.
"I started having seizures from it in my P.E. class," Kuhns said. "I feel like I didn't even think twice about it."
On Feb. 9, 2009, during an intervention by her family on "Dr. Phil," Kuhns faced her addiction to heroin and left for treatment.
On Wednesday, Kuhns will appear on "Dr. Phil" again — this time to update him on her sobriety.
"I never thought I could get sober. I tried so many times," said Kuhns, now 21. "It's so crazy how different my life is."
It was not an easy road. Although she had tons of friends, Kuhns never felt comfortable in her own skin and sought to medicate herself with drugs.
"Growing up, I always felt depressed. I never liked myself," she said. "I was always feeling less than — ugly or fat. I felt out of place."
Shortly after her seizure, she attended rehab for the first time. Afterward, she started dating a boy who introduced her to heroin. She didn't want to take speed because of the seizures.
From then on, she used heroin almost daily.
"I couldn't stop overdosing," she said. "Drugs weren't working for me anymore."
Kuhns had always known she was adopted and that her biological family had history of drug abuse.
"I never thought of it like (I was) ending up that way," she said.
But then she realized that she was indeed like the others.
Her adoptive mother wrote a letter to the show, asking for Dr. Phil's help. Two days later, she received a call. Kuhns was led to think her intervention taping was actually a show on adopted children, so she agreed to go.
Dr. Phil's staff sent Kuhns to La Hacienda in Kerrville, Texas, where she received treatment from December 2009 to March 2010.
Kuhns, who now speaks candidly about her former life as an addict, credits the show for her sobriety.
She knew that heroin wasn't an easy drug to kick. In the last four years, she's lost 10 friends to the drug.