Friday, April 13, 2018 - 8:34am
Prior to recovery, I spent 18 years as a daily drug and alcohol user; I was in and out of jails/prisons regularly, I had severe mental disorders, I felt lonely, broken, hollow, and desperate for change. My history is not unlike many who struggle with addictions; however, this story is not one of addiction, it is a story of recovery.
My journey into recovery started October 6, 2009. I fell asleep drunk and woke up the next morning to an FBI raid. As I sat in jail (once again), I realized that I had been trying to control my addictive behavior for years, and I had failed. I needed help, and I was finally ready to seek it out.
Over the next couple of years in prison, I started attending 12-step meetings and completed a 12-week nonresidential drug abuse treatment program. That gave me some coping skills, helped me change some criminal thinking errors, and introduced me to 12-step programs. When I was released, I immediately started attending 12-step fellowships in the rural community I returned to. I got a sponsor, I worked the steps, I started doing service work for my home group, I attended meetings every day, and I did not associate with anyone still using.
This early recovery foundation was vital for me. I was able to completely change my social niche and had a safe place to pursue the inner transformation necessary to recover. In these early years, my recovery was centered around practice, practice, practice. Change occurred slowly, my recovery community was patient with me and loved me through the process. Around 4 years of recovery, I could really see the difference within me, and in all the relationships in my new life.
At this time, I started attending college, pursuing degrees in social work and chemical dependency counseling. The school experience was also very important to my recovery. I had no work history, I was a convicted felon, and my self-esteem was very low. School helped me build confidence in myself, taught me how to move through different social settings and be professional. Eventually, I replaced those old prison numbers behind my name, with new educational letters behind my name. I had become employable.
I had learned in recovery, that service to humanity can be an important principle for recovering people to practice. So, I carried that with me into my work. I opened a peer support drop-in center in my rural area. It has become a huge success in an area that was hurting for treatment options. I also became an addiction counselor for a newly developed drug treatment court. Today, I can see the difference I am making in the lives of many people. This recovery adventure has taken me to places I could never have imagined myself going. Today, the song in my heart, is one of gratitude and beauty.
Thank you, All My Relations, it is good!