We Do Recover

Recovery looks different to each person. No matter how someone chooses to navigate recovery, it is a challenging road. My sobriety date is June 18, 2018. 6 years of trying to get sober proceeded that date. I managed to string together a year here and there, some months at other times, I had multiple AA coins; 24 hour, 30 day, 2 month, 3 month…you catch the drift. Detox units, residential treatment facilities and recovery rooms were revolving doors for me, it was exhausting and I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t just stay sober. I felt defective and truly defeated. Having a dual diagnosis certainly did not help. I knew I couldn’t ignore one to work on the other, they had to be addressed simultaneously and I had A LOT of healing to do. In the end it was 12 Step Recovery which saved my life. While at times I wish it hadn’t taken me so long to get there, the six years I spent fighting for sobriety made me who I am today.

Those I have met in recovery are some of the most loving and supportive humans I have ever encountered. There’s a saying in 12 step recovery “We will love you until you love yourself”. This came true for me shortly after I returned to AA in 2018 when I stumbled upon a woman’s meeting and met a group of ladies who did just that, they loved me until I could love myself. I cried almost non stop at every meeting I attended for at least the first 6 months and much of the time for months after but, every meeting I went to at least one of those ladies was there and made me feel less alone. I had so many messes to clean up, relational, financial, occupational, etc. I damaged nearly every close relationship in my life. It was incredibly overwhelming but I kept going.

Today I have so much to be thankful for. I received a degree in Addictions Counseling in December of 2023, became certified as a Recovery Support Specialist last month, and I get to utilize my recovery in my work by sharing my experience and hope with others. I’m also entering the final year for my undergrad in Human Services this month and will go on to begin my Master’s program in social work next fall. None of that would be possible if it weren’t for sobriety. I “functioned” in active addiction for many years but I was unable to access my full range of gifts. One of my goals in life is to teach others about substance use disorder and help remove the stigma and normalize asking for help. I want others to know that it’s ok to ask for help and it’s ok if you don’t succeed right away. The important thing is that you keep going. Every step in recovery is a step in the right direction and we can and do recover.

Some facts…According to the SAMHSA National survey on Drug Use and Health from 2021: 62.2 million people over the age of 12 used illicit drugs in the past year. 9.2 million misused opiates. 46.3 million over age 12 met the DSM-5 criteria for having substance use disorder (29.5 million classified as alcohol use disorder and 24 million as drug use disorder). 94% of people with a substance use disorder do not get treatment.

The statistics are overwhelming and show that substance use disorder is truly an epidemic. Over the years, I have lost so many people to substance use. Family, close friends and people I’ve met in recovery. These are deaths that were preventable. We need to work toward ending the stigma surrounding substance use disorder so that more people get the help they need.

If you or someone you love is suffering from substance use disorder help is available.

Illinois Helpline (helplineil.org) for an online assessment and to search for services.  Call 833-234-6343 or text "HELP" to 833234

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