The tired old adage “Once an addict, always an addict” is simply not true, and I am proof of that.
I believe that an addict, any addict, can lose the desire to use and find a new way to live.
It wasn’t easy for me, though. I began using drugs when I was 13 years old. The early years of my life were marked by my father’s addiction to alcohol and all the pain and chaos that it engendered. I am a survivor of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, and the post-traumatic stress that it produced in me and my siblings.
By the fall of 1981, the only thing that had ever made my life bearable, drugs, had become the problem. I was physically addicted, mentally ill, emotionally unstable, and spiritually bankrupt. I was filled with despair, self-hatred, and hopelessness. As a last resort, I decided to try abstinence and recovery. Treatment and 12-step support was very hard to find in the Greater Seattle area, especially with no money or insurance. But I found help, and today I can say that I have not used alcohol or illicit drugs for more than 28 years, nor do I misuse prescribed medications.
When my recovery started on September 15, 1981, I had a 9th
-grade education. I was unemployed and unemployable. Since then, I have educated myself and dedicated my career to working with people who are addicted to alcohol and drugs in the largest urban area of Washington State. I have learned to live life on life’s terms even though it has, at times, been very painful. In 2003, my only brother relapsed after 10 years of abstinence from alcohol. Within 30 days he drove drunk and died in a car accident.
I thrive today when I carry the message of recovery to others. I have personally witnessed the recovery of hundreds of people. They are just like me and have turned their lives around and are making a difference in their communities. Together we are the faces and voices of recovery.