Episode 79: Through Addiction, International Drug Trafficking, & even Incarceration she Made her Comeback!

Guest: Emily O’Brien

Emily dives into her story that began in 2013, turning to substance use, she met someone through work, a close person she trusted. She embarked on a vacation with this friend and a few days into the trip, she was informed that they had to both bring drugs back through the border and this left her feeling trapped. Emily was coerced into strapping drugs to her body on the return flight, followed by her arrest at the airport, plead guilty on charges for importing drugs and spent four years in federal prison. Emily expressed feeling devastated, stupid, and regretted missing the signs and red flags that were present that she hadn’t paid attention to. The red flags were not apparent until much later. Emily experienced feeling more furious at herself than she was at the friend who got her into the situation. Initially on house arrest for two and half years followed by the guilty plea with four years in the federal facility. She experienced a great deal of shame after her bail hearing, had difficulty looking at her parents, and seeing how terrified they were. She later explains that her mental health was on the back burner, she was in a frozen state, feeling in limbo. While in prison she felt revenge on the person who influenced her situation, and in prison, she was surrounded by people who condone violence, and this perpetuated a desire to punish her friend. Emily went through a roller coaster of emotions related to anger and revenge and fixated in an anger trap is how she describes it. Her key message to the listeners is that: you don’t have to be in a physical prison to be in prison, whether it’s marital, financial, environment or injury prison, but it’s more about what you do with it; focus on growth; allow your emotions; no one can dictate your journey; mistakes are universal and so are comebacks. 


Guest Bio: Emily is the CEO and founder of Comeback Snacks. While in prison, she was on a mission. A mission to change herself and a mission to make a difference in the world. At first, she didn’t know how she’d make that difference, but deep down, she knew she would find something she was passionate about that would benefit from a purpose driven face-lift.

The idea for Comeback Snacks was forged while she was in prison and became keenly aware of the tough challenges her fellow inmates and Emily faced in getting back on their feet. Since then, it has been the Comeback team’s mission to raise awareness for second chances, hire those in need of a second chance when they can, and to support reintegration programs, with a share of profits allocated to like-minded causes as they grow the business. Comeback Snacks are made with conviction. Emily and her team blend decadently delicious ingredients to make compelling recipes that offer a fresh take in the world of gourmet popcorn. Her motto is that ‘Everyone deserves a Comeback!’

Passionate about:  Community Justice Waterloo region – Community Justice Initiatives (Stride) – They had volunteers come into the prison. Even when I got out, they remained connected to me. I think they were a major help in why I wanted to give back and build a better life. 

URL for shoutout: