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Voices for Recovery

Irene Garza (06/15/2010)

My problem was not any specific substance – it was the disease of addiction. I began using at the young age of 11 to escape the pain of long-term abuse. My life was painful; addiction and violence were rampant in my family. But today I am so grateful to have been given the gift of recovery. I have not used any mind- or mood-altering chemicals for the past 24 years.

I was in and out of treatment centers for several years before I came into contact with others who were “just like me” and was finally able to hear the message of recovery. I began attending 12-step groups and have never looked back. Recovery for me means that I have a life that was not even imagined while I was using. The cycle of addiction in my family has been broken. What this means is that my children, ages 18 and 11, have never known me as a mom with a substance use disorder. They know me as a loving, caring, and compassionate person.

I have had so many wonderful experiences on this journey and I could not possibly mention them all. I will say that I have obtained my master’s in social work and have worked in this field for many years. I am involved in the community and take the responsibility to relay the message of recovery to individuals suffering from substance use disorders very seriously. I am a homeowner, have traveled, and have done many other things that I couldn’t have done if I wasn’t in recovery. However, the most important gifts to me are the internal ones: my self esteem, self worth, integrity, self respect, and acceptance of self. This was unimaginable in my “other life.”

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