From Paranoid to Making Progress in Recovery, My Eyes Are Fixed On the Future.

About ten years ago, I thought I was destined to die an alcoholic and drug addict; and I was ok with that. In fact, I was proud of how much I could drink. Then I found meth and lived in a drug-induced psychosis; I was the center of attention and the life of the party. Or so I thought.

My story begins when I was just about 13 years old. It was around this time that I was on a trip to visit my father (I was raised by my mother, and my dad was never really a part of my life due to his own demons; he died at 46 from cirrhosis of the liver caused by alcoholism). During that trip, I witnessed something tragic, something a kid that age should never have to see: I saw someone violently lose their life. Seeing that happen changed something in me, made me feel different from other kids- like I didn’t fit in anymore. I was already very shy and timid growing up and now I felt even further removed. I have always been a big guy and overweight, which made for plenty of years in school when I got picked on and bullied. All of this together- witnessing tragedy first hand at a young age, feeling abandoned by my father, being bullied and picked on- it’s easy to see why I turned to drugs and alcohol to cope.

So when I got home, I started smoking marijuana. Getting high helped me handle all the emotional stuff I was dealing with and quieted what was going on in my mind.

Then, at 16, I started drinking. Alcohol was perfect for me because it took away my fear of fitting in and made be feel like people liked me. I made friends more easily and I was able to ignore all the emotional turmoil caused by things I carried with me from childhood. Of course, I didn’t realize any of this at the time, but looking back it all makes perfect sense.

I drank anything and everything; if it had alcohol, I would drink it. I still smoked marijuana, and then got into harder drugs: cocaine, ecstasy, mushrooms, acid, meth, crack. I would try anything that would alter my mind or get me high.

The two substances that brought me to rock bottom were alcohol and meth. They had a hold of me. Meth gripped my mind and completely shattered it; I became a drug-induced schizophrenic. I heard voices and I believed they were real. I thought I could communicate with just my mind, I thought I could hear you speak to me in my mind. I made up scenarios and false realties that played out in my head.

What I’m about to tell you is the truth, and you may laugh; it is funny looking back, but at the time it was real and very serious. See, I was so far gone in my schizophrenic state that I thought I was on a hidden camera reality TV show on MTV that was broadcast live for everyone to watch (like the Truman Show). I thought I could hear all my friends commenting on my show and laughing and having a good ol’ time watching me in everyday life. I truly believed it was real; it was my reality. I thought all my family and friends were in on it and that all kinds of celebrities were watching too. I even thought there was a catch to my show: if I made it through to the end without anyone telling me about it, I would win a million dollars and a record contract from rap artist E-40. I know, it sounds crazy and I’m sure you giggled a little bit reading about it. But that’s how jacked up the drugs had me.

So that was my life: I couldn’t go a day without drinking or using, though I did try to get clean and sober. I was in and out of rehab programs and 12-Step meetings; I would make it close to getting 60 days but I always failed and went right back out. I was having thoughts of suicide and I just wanted everything to end. I still thought my life was some show. I was done I wanted to die. Then rock bottom came.

I had just relapsed again and the voices in my head were telling me that a drink would quiet them. I just wanted them to shut up so I got a drink, then another, then a pint of whiskey. Then I hopped in my car and went to a bar had a few more cocktails. When I was driving home I was debating between going a 100 mph into another vehicle to kill myself or stop “the show” to prove to them that I was serious about dying. I was filled with guilt, shame, remorse, hopelessness, self-pity; I was demoralized completely. But, somehow, I managed to muster up a “help me” prayer… and my car came to a stop at a 12-Step meeting. I had been to many before, but never this desperate. I raised my hand, drunk and in tears, and said, “My name is Jimmy and I’m an Alcoholic and I need help. I don’t know how to stay clean and sober. I need help!!”

Looking back on all the drunk decisions I’ve made, that was by far the best decision I ever made in my life. I met my sponsor that day and committed to fighting the disease of addiction. I can proudly say that as of right now, I am winning!

I haven’t had a drink or used any mind-altering substances since June 13, 2007 and my life today is more beautiful than anything I could have ever imagined. I had to get honest with myself and learn how to be vulnerable and express my feelings and secrets to another person and was able to do so through my faith in a power greater than myself. The belief in that power has transformed my life completely.

Today, I am very active in recovery and will go out of my way to try to help the still suffering alcoholic/addict. I have helped quite a few people who now walk with me on this journey, and I will continue to do so; it’s a small price to pay for the life that I get to live. I’ve also taken it a step further: in 2013 I started recording rap music independently. I have no intention on being a rap star but instead want simply to put my story out there through music with the hopes that it will catch someone’s ear who needs to hear the message and ultimately inspire change. I am currently working on my 3rd album entitled “Progression”. It’s a fitting title: my eyes are fixed on the future and I will continue to make progress.

If you read this and you’re struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m easy to find on social media and I’ll do what I can to lead you in the right direction.

Above all, Keep the Faith!
Links to music:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXvI7PLGDlc
www.facebook.com/jimmyb707
www.soundcloud.com/jimmyb707
www.reverbnation.com/jimmyb707

Before I Got Sober, I Couldn’t See Who I Was. Now, I Value Myself in Recovery.

My name is Erin and I am a women in long term recovery from substance use disorder.  What that means to me is that I have not found it necessary to use any mind altering, mood changing substance since November 10, 2014.

A lot of people would ask…ok? So what’s the difference?  By living a life in and around recovery, I am able to be a better mother, friend, daughter, partner and member of society. Today I can hold a job (and do it well!).  My children know they can depend on me.  I have the ability to make and keep commitments. My self esteem, self worth and self acceptance, while not perfect, are leaps and bounds better than they have EVER been.

That’s the catch right there.  As early as the fourth grade I remember absolutely tearing myself down.  I thought my name was ugly, my hair and eye color were boring.  Never did I feel smart enough, attractive enough, skinny enough…just not enough.  I found later in life it would be the same with my drinking and drugging.  I did a lot of both.  It was never enough.  My addiction caused me to lie, cheat and steal from the ones I loved and that loved me the most.  Nothing came between me and the next one.

I’ve been asked on more than one occasion, why did you stop?  Were you scared?  Was it hard?

Was I scared…hell yes I was, I was terrified.  Was it hard?  It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do.  I was 34 years old.  My children were going to stay with my mom so I could move into a recovery house. I had lost my job. I was getting ready to loose my home.  My husband couldn’t even bear to watch me pack. I was in precipitated withdrawal from taking my detox medication a bit too early.  I’m not sure hard is the right word.  I was devastated.

My recovery journey began at the McShin Foundation, in one of their women’s recovery houses. I was surrounded by women much younger than I was and I immediately started identifying out because of that.  However, for whatever reason, I was willing to start taking suggestions.  I found a 12 step fellowship of my choosing, got a sponsor and started taking her suggestions.  Today I work a program of recovery, every day. I strive help other women seeking the same growth and acceptance of self that I have found.

One of the many gifts of my recovery is my job as Director of Women’s Programs at the McShin Foundation, the RCO where my recovery began.  It certainly isn’t always easy but to see the light come back into another persons eyes, to see that they see that there is hope and that they to can get and stay clean is amazing!  Recovery has given me a life worth living.  It has given me true friends and an amazing network of people who are always there for me.  Recovery has given me back my family and my self worth. Recovery is the best decision I have ever made for myself.

In closing, I’d like to say a special thank you to the McShin Foundation for giving me a safe and stable place to begin my recovery journey and for allowing me the opportunity to work with other women seeking recovery.  I’d also like to thank them for introducing me to the 12 step fellowship of my choosing which saves my life on a daily basis.  I’ll keep coming back!

I’m Affected By Addiction. Surviving Isn’t Enough: I Needed Relief.

I don’t write as someone in recovery from addiction.  I write as one in recovery from my obsession with someone who has struggled with addiction. I write as the affected family member.

I am the youngest of six.  Four of my older siblings were born into my parents’ violent marriage.  My Dad was an alcoholic who quit drinking and became obsessed with religion and self-help (becoming what is known as a “dry drunk”) just before the younger two of the six, my brother and myself, were born.  When my mother was eight months pregnant with me their house caught fire and burned down.  They moved their family in with my Mother’s parents and her college student brother, who at that time was pursuing the music scene, taking acid to intensify his musical experience.  Chaos.

It was not discussed what they had experienced prior to my birth, but my brother and I were born into the aftermath and noticeable misery of it.  The rhythm of our home-life was anger, depression and poverty.  So many down trodden personalities combined with confusing church practices.  There was no active thinking toward working at bettering life.  Our family lived from crisis to crisis.

I became a Mother at 18.  Once my son was born, I was focused on finding our way out of the oppression I grew up in.  I practically read the Boundaries books and concepts of the DSM to him for bedtime stories (not really, but I might have if they came with pictures).

I worked hard to put my son in private school and attempted to give him a completely different home setting than I experienced.  Despite that, crisis swept through our lives again when at 17 he suffered a broken jaw in football and was given prescription Percocet.  This began a six-year horrendous journey through the darkest depths of opiate addiction.

My son’s battle with dependency exposed my Mother’s own prescription pain medication abuse. Which had been well disguised, as she is literally the church lady.

Once again our life was filled with chaos, conflict, crisis and total madness for our family.  It seemed at times like the worst darkness imaginable.   Most of my relatives were in either denial or stunned to realize this had been happening for years with our Mother even though the signs were in front of us all along.  The first response of my family as a unit was to reject the truth and the messenger (me).  This added many problems to the battle.

I know what it’s like to feel totally alone in despair and confusion as an addiction is raging through a family like a 10-alarm fire.

In the first few years of it, I truly believed I was on the clock against my son’s death.  I thought it was solely up to me to stop the problem.  I took the fight for my son’s life on, alone, like it was the fight of my life.  Until it began to devour me.

I finally handed him the fight and retreated for a week to rest my mind.  My son ended up sleeping in a dugout that week, at the baseball park where he’d grown up playing little league baseball. He weighed less than I did.  Excruciating.

However, this was the week that he finally took the reins of the situation he’d found himself in, booked a flight with what money he had left to pursue treatment and recovery in Southern California.  He has been working a 12 step recovery plan for going on 5 years now.

My son relapsed early on, which taught me that going away wasn’t necessarily the answer (wherever you go, there you are), and that truly his recovery was up to him, not me.

That is when I began to pursue my own recovery from the trauma, the absolute primal fear I lived in and the brutal codependency I entered into alongside my son’s struggle.

Often, family and friends adjacent don’t realize that they become as sick (if not sicker) as the struggling, addicted person they are affected by.  The message of the books and articles I write is for them (us).

I have spent the last five years working on my own recovery, intentionally doing whatever it takes to settle down, heal, maintain peace, grow, and extend (as well as ask for) forgiveness.  That is what recovery means for me.

As a family we are moving forward in life as triumphantly as possible.

My passion is reaching out to tell others “you are not alone.”  There’s hope, no matter how far gone your situation looks.  A family can recover, from it all…and move forward.  You can make a comeback, if you fight for it.

In fact, life can even open up and become better than before. I live to offer this hope.  Hope is a powerful medicine.

Addiction Affects Everyone, Including Me. That’s Why I Don’t Judge.

I’m Catherine, I’m an addict, and I am many other things as well. I am a mother, a step-mother, and a wife. I am a daughter, a sister, and an aunt. I am an employee, a counselor, an advocate, and a human being.

For years I was afraid to publicly acknowledge my reality of being an addict in recovery. The stigma that sticks to us is frightening. So I hid. Oh I of course had my support group. The one place I felt free to be genuinely me. But I hated carrying the burden of being an addict in secret. It weighed me down like a ton of bricks. So finally, one day, I decided to take a step of faith and make my status as a person in recovery known. I lived as a using addict for a solid 13 years of my life. I lied, cheated, stole, hurt, embarrassed, and broke the heart of so many people in that 13 years. Most of all I broke my own heart. Wanting to stop, killing myself slowly, on a daily basis, because I didn’t know any other way. “Just stop!”, “Don’t you love your kids?”, “You’re too smart for this!” were all common phrases thrown at me that only made me feel worse. Because I couldn’t stop. Because I did love my children dearly! Because I was a smart person with a bright future at one point in my life. But I did not know how to put it down. For the life of me I could not just walk away from the one thing that brought me comfort.

You see, addiction is a funny thing. It hijacks your brain and makes you believe that you will literally DIE without it. It was a choice the first time I took a drink of alcohol. It was probably a choice the first few times I drank. I was 12 years old. I would have never imagined what my life was going to turn into. If someone would have tried to tell me I would have told them they were full of it! My mother was an alcoholic and I was NEVER going to be like her. And that is why addiction is a funny thing. It convinces you that you are in control. That you want to live like this. That it is everyone else that has a problem and if THEY would just let you live your life and stay out of your business everything would be just fine. Addiction convinced me that my destiny was to die a junkie.

It took the intervention of the legal system, a couple of times, to get me to stop. I had to physically be removed from the dope. Today I am grateful for jail and prison in particular because it saved my life. Without a doubt it saved me. And after prison, what keeps saving my life on a daily basis, is a 12-step program of recovery. There are a myriad of pathways for the recovering individual. This is the way that works for me and that is the only thing that matters. Since my clean date on May 1, 2007, my life has changed in ways I could have never imagined. I have went back to school. I got my undergraduate degree in Psychology, graduating as one of three valedictorians of my class. After that I decided to go on and pursue my Master’s in Counseling. Today I work in the same college as I got my undergrad in and I help students who are at a disadvantage so that they can overcome their educational barriers. My hope is that I can bring more Recovery Awareness to this small college, because the need is great in my home town. I have relationships unlike any of I have ever had in my life. People can trust me today, and I can trust them. When I promise my children something, they know they can count on me to keep that promise. I am a good mom today.

Catherine Harrison Addiction Recovery

Today I am able to be all the things I mentioned before – a mother, step-mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, employee, counselor, and advocate. I am able to be those things because of recovery. It is a daily battle to make good responsible choices. To stay on the path that ensures I will not go back to the horror that is active addiction. I see people all the time in the grips of this insidious disease and I hear the ignorant comments that people make and sometimes it enrages me. Who are you to make judgments? You do not know what that person’s life is like. You do not know and thank God that you don’t. But I do. I know that desperation that drives the using addict. And, just for today, I am so grateful that I do not have to live like that. And you know what? I am not special. I am not unique. I am no better than the mom passed out in the car with her kids in the back. I am no better than the woman selling her body, convincing herself that it’s better than stealing to support her habit. I am no better than the addict that got their picture on the front page of the paper for armed robbery.

I am no better than the millions of people caught in the clutches of this fatal disease. I just found a different way. We really DO RECOVER! And we live lives that are worthy of mention. We make differences and help others. And we have empathy like you would not imagine! In a world full of hatred and ugliness I challenge you to find anyone more kind than a recovering addict. We have been through the pits of Hell. We are grateful for life.

I share my story because I am tired of seeing people die in secret and ashamed. I’m Catherine, I’m an addict. Thanks for letting me share.

May My Love and My Voice Be Weapons of Mass Destruction Against Addiction

We are a family in recovery, almost 2 years. My son is almost 24 and entered treatment that day in 2015 after an intervention I held to save his life. That’s the day I committed myself to sobriety too, to change our family trajectory, our family story, to break the cycle and to devote my life to helping families who have been impacted by addiction on the path of recovery.

We’ve been open with our journey on social media ever since I attended the Facing Addiction Concert. I began with a blog post ending the silence about addiction in our family the day after the concert.

There are many layers to that story that have unfolded over the two years since the first break of silence.

Today we are celebrating the good life in recovery and doing what we can to guide and help others. My prayer is still “May my love and my voice be weapons of mass destruction against addiction.”

The 2015 Story
“What is the story you never tell?” She asks.
I look away. I take a breath.
“It’s a long story.” I say.
In my closet is where my secret story hides. An epic tale of light vs dark. The battle for my voice. The war on my heart.
There is a box that holds my voice that has been silenced. My heart poured out in pencil on paper.
There is the stack of addiction books, the “shelfie” I don’t share on Instagram.
There is my sticky note plan of attack that lines my closet walls.
This is the side of my heart I don’t share on Facebook.
This is my soul mission in development. My own underground movement.
This is my grief.
I granddaughtered in addiction.
I daughtered in it.
I was active in it in college.
I dated it.
I made love to it.
I know it intimately.
I am fluent in it.
I am a loyal friend to it.
I married it.
I divorced it.
Now, I mother it.
It’s a disease that has tried to kill me but what it doesn’t know is that instead of killing me it has made me strong. It has made me powerful.
I fight for my life, my heart, my joy. For Love. For Peace. For Happiness.
For the lives of my children. For the lives of my friends.
I am undergoing aggressive training for battle.
There is a great power on my side.
A great power in my heart.
There is an altar, where hope is born every morning on my knees.
One day at a time.
I light candles to honor the love and the pain that burns my heart.
These are my prayers.
May I be well, happy and peaceful. May no harm come to me….
May they be well happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them…..
Our Father who art in Heaven.
Thy will be done.
Hail Mary full of Grace.
Today, I am battling my son’s addiction.
It’s a daily battle.
Some days he fights for his life and he shines.
Some days he gives into to the demon and I weep.
He is 22.
I still check to see if he is breathing.
I look into his eyes with love and hope and all the tenderness I had when he was a newborn baby, a happy go lucky kid, a boy of promise, heart, sensitivity, big love, of brotherhood and spirit. I know that boy is in there.
I know he is not his addiction.
He is my Golden Boy.

It’s a secret. It’s NOT a secret. No one knows. Everyone knows.
Addiction thrives in silence. In secrecy. In the dark. In the night.
Hidden in the basement, behind closed doors and closed lips.
“Don’t tell. Don’t tell. Don’t tell.” They plead.
“Help me. Help us. Help.” They plead.
“I’m lost.” They whisper in the night.
“I am too.” I whisper back, “you are not alone.”
I love him. My lost, addicted, scary son.
I love them.
These lost, addicted, scary children.
They haunt me the lost children. The eyes and hearts of parents, sisters, brothers, friends of the beautiful, lost, scary children, haunt me too.
Today is the day the silence ends.
I don’t want to wait for a successful recovery story or death to speak up and speak out.
Today is the day the silence ends.
I am unhooking from a pattern of secrecy and silence.
Today is the day the silence ends and I tell the story of a mother’s heart, a daughter’s heart, a woman’s heart, a lover’s heart, the heart of a friend.
Today is the day the silence ends and I tell the Truth.
The Truth is my only Hope.
We have the disease.
My son is a person in recovery from addiction.
In August 2015, I planned a surprise for his 22nd birthday.
I invited his family and friends to write love letters. I invited them to share with him how much he is loved.
This is not my son.
This is not his face.
This is not his heart.
“Tough love,” say the people who have never worn the shoes that I wear.
“Kick him out.” Say the people who don’t understand my mother heart.
“He has to decide for himself,” they say, “or it won’t work.”

He has a disease. A disease that affects his brain.
“How can HE decide?” I wonder.
“He can’t,” I decide. He may not live another day.
And so I throw him an Intervention for his birthday.
This is the story I haven’t told.
This is the day I end my silence.
And With this I pray
“May my love and my voice be weapons of mass destruction against addiction.”

I’m Almost 5 Years Sober from Pill Addiction and Grateful to Have My Family Back

My name is Tom Boldt and I am a recovering drug addict and alcoholic.

My sobriety date is November 6th 2012. That date changed my life forever.

I was born in St. Louis, Missouri on Aug 21st 1991 to two amazing parents. Growing up I was given pretty much everything I needed and more. I always grew up thinking a addict was a bum on the street with a needle in his/her arm. Or a alcoholic was the guy drinking out of a brown paper bag. That is simply not the case. I learned very quickly that addicts come in many different forms.

When I was in grade school, I would get so anxious before my first day of school that I would panic and pace around the house. My mother had the idea to give me a Xanax and I completely forgot about school and fell right asleep. From that moment on I thought relief came in the form of a pill. In high school I started using benzos and opiates almost every weekend. I thought I was on top of the world. I had a lot of friends and seemed happy! Soon after I was using them on a daily basis. They stopped working, I spiraled out of control getting arrested and causing harm to everyone around me. All I could see was darkness. I thought if I just try different combinations of pills it would help, only to realize that I was blacking out.

In 2011, I was in a motorcycle accident where I hit a tree under the influence of narcotics. I was hospitalized for a short time and the hospital wanted to hold me because I told them everything I was abusing at the time. Shortly after I attended my Grandfather’s Wake and was in a blackout. At this point of my life I saw no way out. I had suicidal thoughts and was completely lost. I was pushing everyone around me away. My own brother called me a piece of crap to my face.

On Halloween of 2012 I had one of the worst nights of my life. I went through a breakup, I had got myself into multiple fights and was running down the freeway sure of getting hit by a car. I woke up the next morning looked my mom in the eye and said “I am ready, I need help.” That was the best decision I have ever made.

I went to a 30 day primary treatment center followed by another 90 in patient treatment. I found the help I needed.

Today I stay active in recovery every day. I have my family back, and I have helped my closest friends get sober. I currently am trying to help as many people as I can and contribute as much as I can back to the community and show that recovery is possible. I have a life today that I never thought was possible. I just want to say to anyone who is reading this struggling that recovery is possible no matter what. I am so grateful.

Recovery Awakened My Creativity and Connected Me to Other Sober Artists

My name is Heather and my recovery date is August 30th 2015. I am an artist and a person in recovery from all mind altering substances.

While in active addiction, I lost my light along with everything and everyone I loved. I put my mind body and spirit through the dark until I found the rooms of recovery. When I first got clean in December of 2014, I had a whole new world in front of me in which I was able to showcase my work. I wasn’t prepared to be in an environment where alcohol was present and I relapsed.

Since then I became willing to make a change. After my first year, I had an idea to produce my own shows in Pasadena with an atmosphere that was conducive to people in recovery so we can have a safe space to show our creations. I began searching for venues and finally found a beautiful space in Pasadena. Since then, I’ve supported 3 shows with an out pour of artists in recovery ranging from every kind of medium you can think of: painters, photographers, musicians, fashion design, poetry.

There’s a young entrepreneur (who is a “normie”) that supports the cause with her own line of coffee called Renaissance Coffee and comes to each show. I have been told I’m doing the good work and that I’ve reigniting people’s creative thought patterns.

I didn’t know my idea was going to turn in to what it’s becoming, but I’m extremely humbled by all of it. I want artists who are in recovery to find a positive out let for themselves and feel a sense of accomplishment. The shows builds self esteem and allows them to be able to walk through the pressure of life with a safe space to land.

Artists learn how to price their product and learn they can have their own business doing what they love. Groups that have shown with me have been booked for other shows, sold their product, and have been exposed to new avenues they may not have known about. My company’s name is Loyal Royalty by Heather Nicole and this is a movement I hope will continue to be a blessing for many artists to come.

Thank you for creating this Voices Project, for spreading the message of hope and removing the stigma behind addiction.

There is life after drugs and it’s a beautiful one to have.

On My Birthday This Year, I’m Celebrating Us.

Today, I turn 37. It’s the third birthday I’ve celebrated in recovery, and I’m so grateful to be able to share it with the amazing community I’ve found.

You guys are the best gift I could possibly ask for. When I reached out for help, you were there. When I shared my worries and concerns, you told me to keep going. When I made mistakes, you reminded me that that’s how we learn. You opened your hearts and shared your stories: about your kids, your recovery, and your communities. Every day, I get hundreds of messages from people all over America who inspire me and give me faith in what we’re doing together.

Together. That’s such a powerful word to me now. When I was at the end of my active heroin use three years ago, I was so isolated. Alone. Anyone who’s been there knows the pain and loneliness of addiction. My whole body hurt. I was sick. I was tired. I was convinced that nobody cared what happened to me anymore, and that my life had no value. I felt like a huge disappointment. When I found my recovery community, I found my purpose.

Thanks to people like you, I made it to 37. I’m not a disappointment. I’m not alone anymore. I’ve made it my mission to share my story and the stories of people like you – the ones who loved and supported me while I found my feet in long term recovery. I’m profoundly grateful that I don’t have to do this alone. I couldn’t do any of it by myself. This is our path, all of us, regardless of our political beliefs, faith, race, creed, color, gender, or zip code. Addiction affects all of us. Thankfully, recovery does too.

Recovery in the Anchorage Jail

If you’d like to do something small and simple to help support recovery efforts nationwide, I have a couple suggestions. Remember that we are not just one or two or even a hundred: there are millions of people across our country who are living in recovery, and millions more who love and care for them.

Share your story on social media. Don’t be ashamed, and don’t hold back. Your experience can inspire another person to talk about substance use disorder. It can also help change people’s assumptions about addiction, or even help someone speak up about their struggle. I share stories about recovery almost daily on my website at Voices Project as well.

Donate to a recovery organization. I’ve seen firsthand how much nonprofits like Facing Addiction, My House, and many others benefit the recovery community. Their budgets go a long way to help people find stability in recovery, including peer to peer support, housing, mentors, employment, counseling, and advocacy.

Make your voice heard. Write to your local newspaper about the drug epidemic. Call your elected officials and ask what they’re doing to end this health crisis. Heck, call the White House while you’re at it! This takes two minutes but makes a huge impact on new policies that affect people with substance use disorder.

Sign a petition. Add your name to this letter from Facing Addiction to President Trump, calling for support for addiction solutions. We need to lift up this cause and make sure that addiction and recovery are priorities for this administration.

These are small acts that lead to big, positive changes. If we all do just one thing, we can shift the course of history. We can see that justice is done, and that people like us are treated fairly and humanely. We can accomplish so much together – more than we ever could alone.

It’s good to get older. Not every person with substance use disorder gets that. I know that I’ve been blessed with another chance at life, and I’m going to give it everything I’ve got.

Thank you, for this year. I know that the next one will be even more incredible.

Much love,

Ryan

Two of Our Sons Are in Ohio Jails Because of Addiction. We Hit Bottom As a Family.

When we had our children – we never dreamed we would be here. Four sons: we knew that we would be busy with school, sports, family holidays, and birthdays to share each milestone.

Some years up the road, our oldest son started his journey into substance use. It’s been a 13 year battle with treatment centers, counselors, jail, prison and homelessness – and then prison again. We showed tough love we also educated ourselves on addiction and how to survive, what it does to the family.

A few years later, our second son enters his decent into addiction. We are overwhelmed. This ends in both boys being addicted to heroin and stealing, lying, more arrests, more lies, and more collateral damage to our family. We eventually face our second born being charged with involuntary manslaughter for giving someone heroin that was laced and took this young man’s life. We are overwhelmed.

We have two children in Ohio correctional facilities, we have adopted a grandson due to this addiction. We have reached our bottom. But we decide to rise! To fight, to campaign, to donate, to educate, and to forgive. We need to heal. I would like to add a post from my blog:

Heroin… This is what you left us.

What does the normal family do at the sound of the phone ringing in the middle of the night? Does it annoy you? Maybe you sleep through it? Maybe you’re thinking it’s a friend who isn’t politely displaying phone etiquette?

I can tell you as a parent of an addict, this is a terrible fear. A paralyzingly fear. A knock on the door in the middle of the night, creates the same feeling inside you. Is this the end? Please God do not let it be the final call, the final knock on the door.

You earn this feeling by being the parent of an addict. This is yours, this is what Heroin has left behind.

I wish I didn’t know this. I wish that I couldn’t relate to it. I wish that I lived in a world where it doesn’t exist. Your world, your normal world. Why is my world so abnormal? So full of fear, guilt, shame, and dread?

Because of you Heroin! You took our beautiful boys away from us and this is what you have left behind.
You have taken us on a journey through pure hell. You have left behind for us sleepless nights, PTSD, anxiety, night terrors, a child without parents, endless pain.

We can remember it from sober minds.

Raw fresh sober minds.

What heroin left behind we will never forget. The scars start to fade and then there is a straw, a piece of foil, a night terror, planning your funeral while you are still here, the phone call that you overdosed, Heroin left us this.

We’re hoping it’s foggy for you. We don’t wish you to remember all the details.

Our addicts are human beings that are sick. Sick with a disease that carries quite an ugly face. We don’t have pretty pink ribbons to show our love. They are usually black.. In remembrance.

At One Point I Looked Death in the Face. Today, I Live A New Life and Am Silent No More

I am often asked to share my experience, strength and hope to the newcomer. Of course, my story is filled with what most addicts and alcoholics face in their downward spiral;  jails, and institutions. I also faced death in 2006 as I was admitted into intensive care in a coma. My body could not expel the massive amounts of opiates I continued to ingest. After a 2 month hospitalization and several months of rehabilitation, I returned to using the mood-altering substances that placed me into a coma. The very definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

My bottom was reached in a jail cell in Waco, Texas as I watched two women almost beat each other to death over a bag of chips that had been obtained from a commissary order. It was my moment of incomprehensible demoralization that set me on the road to recovery. On October 12th, 2017, I will celebrate my eighth year of recovery. It took three admissions to residential treatment centers, two sponsors, a supportive family, the program and fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous, and a willingness I never believed I had. What I remember most about my journey are the case managers and therapists that so willingly believed in me when I could not believe in myself. I now have an entirely different life, instead of taking, I give what was so freely given to me by the therapist that I now aspire to be.

I am a licensed chemical dependency intern for a residential treatment center for men and women seeking help for addiction and alcoholism. My role is one of a case manager and it is a role that defines me and gives my life meaning. I exhibit unconditional positive regard for my clients and work tirelessly to help them in overcoming their barriers in order to find a life free and clear from substance abuse and alcoholism.  At one point I looked death in the face, and now I’m on the other side of broken and strive to help others do the same.  I will spend my life devoted to the addict and alcoholic that is still out there suffering today, that maybe they too can fulfill their purpose in this lifetime.