I am a young person in long-term recovery. What that means for me is that I have not had to have a drink or self-prescribed drug in four and a half years! I am a 28-year-old college undergraduate, an employee, a sister, a daughter, a friend, an advocate and a productive member of society today. One of the greatest gifts that recovery has given me is the ability to recognize growth within myself. I never, ever would have pictured my life turning out the way it has. I will tell you I am grateful, but I also choose to live it one day at a time.
I started using at the age of 15, my freshman year in high school. It all started with a cigarette and a beer. My first encounters with substances were always extreme and consequential, but they were just the beginning. My active use didn’t take off until I graduated high school and moved and began my first college semester. I began drinking heavily and smoking weed every day. My GPA was unsatisfactory, so I moved back home and attended community college. I thought moving home would help, but my use progressed quickly and cocaine became my resolve. So, I thought. I quickly gave up on college, my family, good supports, and primarily myself.
Before I picked up substances, I never felt worthy. I didn’t believe in anything or anyone. I never felt I belonged, here. I always felt lost and caught inside the inner walls of my mind. I didn’t understand how to deal with my emotions. I fought change with every ounce of my being. I put all my energy into all the wrong things, especially negativity. I felt like no one understood me and that I would always be alone, a failure. The day I picked up, I thought I found my answer. Five years of active use beat me down physically and emotionally.
My first go-around of continuous recovery was at the age of the 21. I finally hit a point within myself where I knew I wanted something different. In August of 2010, I made the choice to do something different. I voluntarily put myself into outpatient treatment and began attending AA and NA meetings daily. I built up a solid support system and started to gain the positive effects of recovery.
At about 20 months clean, I relapsed. I stopped utilizing the tools and supports that helped me and I chose to revert to my old comfort. I re-entered recovery on September 6th, 2012. It was one of the most humbling and difficult moments I’ve ever experienced. But, that moment and everyone after has brought me to today. My journey is always unfolding exactly as it should be. My active use led me to my recovery. My recovery has led me to my purpose.
Today, I am the Co-Chapter Lead of the Hudson-NY-Chapter of Young People in Recovery (YPR) and I am also a steering committee member of the newly developed Recovery Community Organization (RCO) known as Columbia Pathways to Recovery (CPR). In the last year, I have experienced profound grief in my recovery through the death of two close friends, both to overdose. Through my grief, I found my gladness; my gladness is knowing that I have been given the gift of a first-hand perspective of the world’s needs and that with my continued willingness, I hope to make a remarkable difference in this world. There is always hope, recovery is possible.