Tales From the Road

Jess Reynolds

In the beginning of my recovery I was alone and afraid. I got out of jail with the clothes on my back. I was in a strange town, knew nobody and the people I did know didn’t think that I would ever get it together. Today I am strong, I have friends, family and people that are proud of me. Recovery is the best choice I ever made. You can do anything you want all you have to do is reach out and grab it.

Kathy Norman

I was so sad. My brother told me “they will help you with everything else, too.” Those were magic words to me, I was willing to do anything to feel better. So I went to Father Martin’s Ashley for 28 days which is the beginning of my recovery journey. I was happy to learn I had a disease and it was treatable. I took every “suggestion” and dove into a 12-Step program which has become the foundation for my life. Relationships have been healed, starting with the one between God and me, and continuing through my family and friends. I’ve put myself through school, and I’ve lost the fear of not being good enough. Today I am happy- very, very happy- and forever grateful to have the gift of recovery. It’s hard work and worth every single second of effort. I have been blessed with a life beyond my wildest dreams. Today I choose to be happy, joyous and free and that’s the best place ever to be! Never give up!


Hardest thing in my life to go through.

Edwin Kibe

Sober for years now, my life has changed tremendously. My life is back on track, im achieveing my ambitions among them having a stable family, setting up an institution to help persons with substance use disorder and attaining a Masters Degree is a dream come true. I have authored a book “Surviving an Addiction”, a resource information book dedicated to people committed to fight alcohol, drugs and substances, families of the affected, education institutions, medical doctors, addiction professionals, psychological counselors, the clergy and significant others in an effort to ensure there is sober life in the community.

Honesty Liller

Recovery has given me a life I never dreamed of. Being able to be present in my life is priceless and I am going to keep Livin’ The Dream!!

Pride Institute

Pride Institute started 30 years ago providing treatment to the LGBT community. Located in Eden Prairie, MN, we have continued this mission and provide treatment to clients across the US.

Jody Anderson

My mother entered recovery in 2003. I was so touched by the nurses who took care of her that I became a nurse myself. I work in the detox unit of a recovery center and I can’t tell you how many times my heart has been touched by the stories of people entering rehab. My best piece of advice for them is that while the slogan “One day at a time” is a constant reminder than we can get through most days – sometimes you just have to make it through the next 5 minutes.

Christina Simmons

I have a past that is thick and bad. But I have a future that contains my Masters in Marriage and family counseling and I am a certified alcohol and drug counselor. Changing lives because first I was changed.


It gets better with each day. 24hours never be afraid to read out to your “Higher Power.”

Rick Berger

24 years ago, newly moved to Japan, I was in a hotel room and called AA. The line was disconnected. Remembering Bill Wilson, I went to the concierge and started calling Catholic churches. Soon, I was talking with a speaker of English. Two days later, I was sitting in a meeting grateful and didn’t come home to the US for 16 years. Sober, joyous and free.


With the help of a strong sponsor and a good group of others in recovery, I learned to live without my drug of choice and find a better life. I found a relationship with a higher power that I had never experienced before – it became spiritual. The most important thing my sponsor did for me was to call me on my pity parties and how to be grateful. She also taught me that the world didn’t exist for me and people were not going to behave the way I wanted them to. She also said that everything I went through would enable me to help someone else along the way. All of it has come true and I am forever grateful.

Ursel Hughes

My inability to take responsibility for my actions cost me over 2 decades of my life and destruction of my 3 children’s lives. Through recovery I have learned how to accept consequences for my actions whether they are good, bad or indifferent. Recovery has taught me how to love my beautiful imperfect self. Thanks to my sponsor and all the predecessors who have shaped my road of recovery.


February 11, 2005 was the day I checked myself into detox for the second time in three months. I was beaten down, broken, homeless, ashamed, scared, and utterly lost. The night before I had slept on a sidewalk in a pile of my own clothing and contemplated suicide. With nowhere to turn I started walking around my hometown just trying to figure out what I was going to do next. I wanted to die. I was too tired to keep going; too tired to keep using. I was walking aimlessly for hours in the freezing cold until I really looked around me and saw that I had ended up in my grandparent’s neighborhood. When I realized that I was only a few blocks from their house, I started running. I could barely feel my legs, I could barely breathe from the cold hurting my lungs, but I ran. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I rang the doorbell, but there they were. My grandfather opened the door to his oldest grandchild and said, “come on in gal.” They helped bathe me and feed me even though they were unsure of my motives at the time. Years later, my grandmother described her fear in those moments; unsure if I was trying to pull a fast one and steal from them and the fear of how sick I looked. My parents showed up a few hours later and when they asked what I wanted to do I simply answered that I “wanted to come home.” My mother then said the most important thing she has ever said to me. She said, “You don’t have a home. You’re an adult. We’ve been through this before. Figure it out.” Today I know that was the hardest things she has ever done, standing up to me like that. Part of me was angry and hurt and part of me knew that she was right. They drove me to detox and I was released two weeks later to a local homeless shelter. My own father came to pick me up from the hospital to take me there. It was his toughest moment as a father, but it helped change my life. I found a 12-step program through this process and learned that I never had to use again…one day at a time.

Some days it still feels like yesterday. Some days it feels like a lifetime ago. So much has happened in my life these past 11 years. I have felt true love and loss. I have grieved the deaths of loved ones. I have celebrated life and accomplishments. I have true friendships and relationships with my family today. I went back to school around one year clean and eventually achieved getting both my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. I found my calling working with college students in recovery as that was where my using really began. I married another recovering addict and we have been together for nearly 10 years sharing this journey. Recently, we had a beautiful baby girl; something I never dreamed possible until this beautiful life of recovery. Today I am someone that I can be proud of and I am not ashamed of my past. Today I know that my past cannot hurt me, but may be used as a tool to only strengthen this path we walk together. We DO Recover!

Sherri Thompson

It was a long and bumpy road, but I made it!! I feel honored that my higher power gave me the strength to overcome such a crippling disease!! I pray for sobriety for anyone suffering from addiction!! We are worth it!! We are all beautiful!!

Amy Pina

I have gotten sober twice. But this time I not only got sober I also worked on my self esteem. I feel good about myself and I am learning how to comfort myself when things don’t go my way. I have learned how to get high on creative juices which is way better than drugs and alcohol.

Julie Cole

July 9, 1998. This is the day that marked a new life, a rebirth, an embracing of a life that feeds my complete being – mind, body and spirit. It’s a journey taken a moment at a time, but each moment leads to a greater awakening of my passion, my being.

The beginning was hard. That is the truth. I could barely string coherent sentences together. I struggled to read. I was sick, a lot, as I detoxed off of everything. There is a prolonged detox that happens, that few people talk about in the open. A friend early on told me it takes a year to get the cobwebs out and another 2 years to start to come out of the fog. I slept around then clock for a time, then not at all for a time. This pattern continued for a while. I was emotionally all over the place – I would even have rages where I blacked out, dead sober. I had to teach myself how to cry, and it was a lot of work. There were a lot of pent up emotions that I had stuffed over years. They all started to come out, and thankfully I engaged in a recovery community and was surrounded by people who walked with me through the process. I learned about companionship, relationship and commitment. As I healed in on the inside, so followed life on the outside.

It hasn’t always been pretty, but it’s been steady. I have done most of what I was told not to do, but the law of natural consequences is a powerful teacher. Much more powerful than any story shared, although each story gained meaning as life happened. Early on my emotional and psychological state was like a pendulum, swinging wildly from one side to the other. Like my kids on a swing – “higher!” “higher!” – until exhaustion took over, then I learned a little about taking it easy.

That last day of that life, I was literally drowning. Drinking in spite of every instinct not to. I have not experienced that in a long time. Beyond that, I am free of the loneliness. I have a clear sense of direction, and am tapped into a depth of passion that I never knew existed. I am safe. I am protected. I am loved. I am free from the seemingly hopeless state of mind and body that once held me captive.

The truth is, I have sacrificed a lot for commitment to this deal. But the real treasure is that each sacrifice gave way to fruits that never would have come to bear had I had I demanded no sacrifice. I really believe the truth of this way of life – hell, of life at all – is beautifully and eloquently captured in the St. Francis Prayer:

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace!
That where there is hatred, I may bring love.
That where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness.
That where there is discord, I may bring harmony.
That where there is error, I may bring truth.
That where there is doubt, I may bring faith.
That where there is despair, I may bring hope.
That where there are shadows, I may bring light.
That where there is sadness, I may bring joy.

Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort, than to be comforted.
To understand, than to be understood.
To love, than to be loved.
For it is by self-forgetting that one finds. It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life

Thank you for the opportunity to share with you my beautiful, messy, miraculous truth!

Michelle Sebenick

I am beyond grateful to God, my family, and a lot of great friends for lifting me up along this journey! Blessings have been showered down on me since I entered into recovery!! Because of my sobriety, I succeeded in becoming a drug and alcohol counselor and I am now able to help others help themselves, and I’m able to watch others flourish in their own recovery!! Because of sobriety, I can be there when my family and friends need me, I can be present and engaged on holidays and special occasions, and I can have the life I always dreamed of and then some! I’m truly blessed and forever grateful to be living this Sober Life!!


Entering into the rooms of Alcoholic Anonymous at a young age seeds were planted. It takes what it takes sometimes for sobriety to stay. The whole program of recovery must be in action- half measures availed us nothing. The last 6 years before my true surrender were slow suffering with more loss and despair I’ve ever experienced. All self- inflicted by my own pride and arrogance. By despair I became willing and recognized I needed help from others in the program. My journey was necessary for the amount of desperation to engage me in the solution. I obtained an sponsor, worked the 12 steps, developed a conscious contact with a higher power, and began to be involved in service work with the newcomers in the program. I haven’t had to go back to that dark place in my soul I was once at and for that I’m truly grateful. I continue to carry the message to the sick and suffering and keep my service commitments. Asking my Higher Power to show me the way and keep me sober ( lest I think I can on my own) Our third step prayer allows me to turn over my will and life to a power bigger than me giving me the strength to do things by acting in ways I could not before. I have a great peace knowing my purpose today to help others along their way.

Charlene Larson

I started my addiction at the age of 16. For ten years off and on I suffered. I got pregnant with my son at the age of 21 and by the time I was 24 I started going to a therapist who helped me realize what I was doing to myself. By the time I was 26 I was done doing stupid things to myself. In 2010 I started my college career in Substance Abuse Counseling. I have been sober for 6 years now from my addiction. I choose to wake up every day making it positive and knowing that I should always love myself.

Youngbear Roth

Dear Friends, I began my life in yoga when I was a child in front of a small television screen doing exercises with my mother along with Richard Hittleman’s show Yoga For Health. At that time yoga for me was asana only. I was far too young to understand or appreciate contemplative yoga or yoga as a state of being. I was having fun.

At twelve—still with no notions as to why I felt the way that I did, or viewed the world or the human race the way I did— I snuck my first shot of Gin, my first cigarette, and my first joint. During that same time period my father attempted introducing me to Eastern philosophy through author Alan Watts; however, the maturity that reports to one the true depth and major possibilities of a new discovery was not yet mine.

Every time I got high, the misunderstanding that grew concrete in my mind, was that my abysmal failure at school, my teachers, the disappointment I was to my parents, and my fallacious hell on earth world-view simply vanished. I continued studying anything and everything philosophical while I was high and while I was sober. Philosophy fed theory to a youngster with no life background for reference. On the other hand, being high didn’t require any deep consideration and became the only way I could manage my days. My periods of sobriety turned increasingly more depressing.

At seventeen I was living alone in a shack in the middle of a forest nine-thousand miles away from home smoking opium and hashish and drinking wine, and still reading philosophy. I don’t remember how long I was living there when one evening I opened a letter my father sent me. He wrote about a man he’d met many years ago when he was young, and about a song that man composed, Nature Boy by eden ahbez. He closed his letter with the final stanza of eden’s song, “The greatest thing you will ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.” At that moment it hit me; I did not understand or love my fellow man. I did not understand or love my world. I did not understand or love myself. Having put that much together, I silently resolved to become sober and I called my father; financially broke, my lungs sore and sick, my teeth black and gums receding and vomiting blood daily, I was ready to return home.

I entered a period of sobriety during which I unexpectedly met and befriended a seventy-year-old yogi and mystic, eden ahbez (It is said, when the student is ready the teacher appears), who became my spiritual mentor in my pursuit of yoga for the next seventeen years. I met my wife and discovered a love and compassion available to me that I never imagined. I discovered myself—my most difficult accomplishment— and my world. The years of philosophy took on profound meaning creating the foundation I needed for a life dedicated to yoga and my conception of God. I have been sober for forty years. I discovered my love of humanity through coming to terms with my true self. I am not sober in spite of the life I have led; I am sober because of it. I will not be sober tomorrow. I am sober in each moment that I live, and out of those moments tomorrow is born.

Michelle Raynor

I fell into a black hole while in my teens. Undiagnosed depression and anxiety caused me to self-medicate so that I would not think about the abuse I had suffered and continued to fight against. I wanted to be forgotten but found I became the center of attention. One day, someone very special told me that I was going to die if I stayed so I had to go. I went. With no other option, I dove into books; AA, NA, psychology, self-help, trauma. As the fog in my head from the alcohol and other drugs cleared, it also cleared to the fact that I am not a victim of the traumas I faced. I was and still am a survivor! I now give back to those women that remind me so much of myself in early recovery. It’s been 20 years and to this day I struggle sometimes but there is life after death for me.

Melanie Danielson

After many years of using drugs and leaving behind a trail of destruction and devastation, I made a decision to turn my life around. I was homeless and hopeless and age of 33 I had nothing to show for my life. Today I work as a Recovery Coach and an Ordained Minister to spread hope and encourage those that are on their own journey in recovery. Today I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, and a friend. Today I can look at myself in the mirror and proud of the women I have become. Today I am Free.

Ellen Clark

I struggled with addiction for years and lost everything. I changed everything with the love of God, who has removed my desire to use. I am grateful that I have rebuilt my life and have dedicated my life to helping others find freedom from addiction as well. If I can do it, anyone can if they want it enough to go to any lengths to recover. May God bless you and give you the strength and willingness to recover.

Pamela Kiser

My road to recovery is simple. My love for my kids was my catalyst and motivation to give up both drugs and alcohol. Having to scrounge for food and worry over how long we would have a home made me change. When I looked at their faces I realized they had not signed on for this kind of life.

Julie C.

In 1986, I was a broken shell of a person, almost destroyed by my addiction to drugs and alcohol and at the age of 20 could barely tolerate myself and my life. Fortunately, I found recovery and people that guided me along the way to teach me how to live without alcohol or drugs. I have watched many suffer and die from addiction during my own recovery. It is always heart breaking to watch them lose hope. I have been very fortunate to stay willing to do what I have to do to remain a person in recovery. WE DO RECOVER – WE ALL CAN RECOVER!


I was given not one, but two chances at recovery. As I approach 35 years since a relapse in the 70’s, I am overwhelmed at how blessed I am. All that I have, all that I have accomplished, all that I have survived, all that I anticipate is made possible because I was given the gift of sobriety.

Kathleen Van Hoorn

Eight years ago I lived in a park with a handle of vodka always at my side. Today I am the program coordinator for an outpatient clinic and pass on my recovery to anyone who is open to receiving it. I married the man of my dreams this past winter and am living a simple, grateful, full life with more blessings than I could have ever imagined. I thank God, the fellowship of AA, my sponsor and the people who kept me safe when I could not do it for myself for the gift of my recovery today.

Kelly McClanahan

I came to recovery in 1986. It has been the most amazing journey! I have worked in treatment and recovery since 1988 and have been blessed to watch so many others begin their journey into and through this thing. Not everyone “gets it” right away, but, over time, the miracles have been astonishing! I love this life and am the biggest cheerleader I know for those things that are left behind and those things that are healed. I would love to inspire all of those who read these words; but a very wise man told me something when I began this part of my life, and he was right. If you are here to stop your addiction, I can say nothing wrong; if you are not, then I can say nothing right. I open my heart and my arms to all those who inquire within these spaces for a recovery way of life…may you find even a small portion of the joy, wonder, growth and love that I have! And I leave you with this truth, because it changed my heart and my life: “Grateful people are happy people, and them that ain’t, ain’t!” Write those things that are working for you, especially the ones that YOU did not create! Let the rest of it be…focus on what is good and fine in your life and those things will take over, I promise!


In my first meeting I accepted I was not god; accepting a power greater than me transformed my life into a spiritual journey; my new reliance on a higher power gave me the courage I needed to complete the steps, cleaning the past, acknowledging my character defects and learning to turn them over to my higher power by taking the actions I was afraid of taking. Today I underestand my motives and intesions behind every action I take in life! This is the greatest gift the steps have given me. I am no longer irresponsible; a daily inventory, prayer and meditation allow me to maintain a clean slate. I no longer accumulate issues that would make me drink today; I no longer feel alone, instead I know I am an integral part of our Universe and for that I am greatful!

Robert Parkinson

I was 24 years old the day i walked into my first AA meeting, my last drinking episode was pretty bad and my family had enough. Prior to me getting sober i was in prison, i was 19 yrs old and locked up, i was so ashamed of myself that death became an option, that is how low my addiction took me, i really felt that my family would be better off if i were dead, that was the selfish part of my addiction. Today i am 30 years sober and working in the field of addiction. I live my life one day at a time.


My life was full of disappointment, missed opportunities and lost time. After I took the gift of rehab and went to a sober living in a strong recovery community in Bel Air Maryland; I was able to rebuild my relationship with friends and most importantly my family. My sober living experience taught me how to live a sober life and introduced me to a 12 step fellowship. I’m sure if I went back to the same places I was living I would have continued to walk down the same hopeless path. I can’t describe the how full and content I feel today thanks to my journey in recovery.


The struggles in recovery has been worth the time of learning how to live on life terms. Just because we get clean doesn’t mean life’s situation exempt you from having a turn. We do but we get through every situation with God, the fellowship, and love for each other. Thanks to all for teaching me how to deal with life’s challenges instead of running on self will, and fear.


I am an addict and my name is JT. The reason I call myself an addict first is because this fact is more important to me than my first name.

I used drugs daily for 16 years, from the ages of 12 till 28. I had my left knee operated on just to get narcotics- there was nothing wrong with my knee. The three scope holes still visible are a good remember when for me.

I had my nose broken in two places after a bar fight. It was crooked after it healed. I had a Rhinoplasty to get it straightened. Immediately after I woke from surgery I went for a smoke. In the elevator, I squeezed the bag of narcotics attached to my IV to get a rush. I was violently ill upon returning to my room and vomited repeatedly with all the blood rushing to my face right after my nose surgery. I kept the bloody cast from this surgery in the glove box of my car for two years and taped it onto my face to get narcotics from doctors.

In 1999 I went to India to visit a friend I met during a welding course. The entire reason for my trip was to get narcotics. I was arrested in Himachal Pradesh, Himalayas after purchasing 50 grams of narcotics. I spent the night in jail not knowing if the police had found the drugs. I said my favorite prayer: Get me out of this one and I’ll never to it again. I was sincere when I said this. I thought I was going to spend a large part of my life in jail in India. Through a remarkable series of circumstances, the police never found the drugs and I was released the next day. I was taking drugs again as soon as I was released.

I was diagnosed with a heart condition upon my return from India and was taking Atenol and Nitroglycerin daily. I though I was going to die every morning when I took my drugs. I thought, if I’m going to die, I might as well go out with a bang- then took more drugs on top of what I’d just taken.

Shortly after this in 2000, my family did an intervention. Why? They knew what had happened in India. My brother works for an airline. I was asking him for a plane ticket to Amsterdam because I thought it would be a good way to straighten myself out.

I was driven to my uncle Ken’s place. He had 8 years of Recovery from addiction.

I went into his kitchen and said: I don’t want to go to treatment, I don’t want to go to meetings and I don’t want to do the 12 Steps. He listened to me patiently and asked me one question: How many times have you Recovered?

At this point I realized that if I wanted Recovery I had to listen to someone who had it. The only thing I knew how to do well was kill myself with drugs. Another awareness I had was that my thinking was so twisted, in order to Recover all I had to do was the exact opposite of the first thought that came into my mind. Uncle Ken told me if I apply the same effort to Recovery that I did to using, it never fails.

On July 13th 2000 I went to detox, then to a 21-day inpatient treatment center. I applied the full force of my addicted personality to Recovery. My obsession for drugs was removed after two weeks- it has never returned.

I was a high school dropout, 4 years- 8 credits. Three years after going to treatment I was back at the treatment centre I had attended- this time as a student counselor. In 2004 I graduated with Honors from College as a Human Services Counselor with a major in Addictions ;-), and a minor in Mental Health.

I have worked for my local board of education full time for the last decade mostly in high school. I worked part time as a counselor at a youth shelter for 5 years. I started my own business in 2009 to train companies to deal with alcohol and drug addiction.

I have had fun in Recovery that I never could have dreamed possible while I was drugging.

If you are interested in Recovery there are three things that you must do: Go to meetings. Get a sponsor. Do the 12 Steps. Apply the same determination to those three things that you applied to getting high- it never fails.


I can’t express enough gratitude to the program that saved my friends life. I owe Practical Development all the credit for making the change in my friends life. Words can’t explain how I feel!!!!

Wendy Frankton

My name is Wendy F, I’m a grateful recovering addict…
Let me introduce myself to those that may not know me… My name is Wendy F I’m 40 yrs old… Married with 3 girls. I had a very normal childhood. Stay at home mom and a police officer for parents. So they were pretty strict raising me. So I moved out as soon as I turned 18 and graduated, when I was 18- 20 I Drank ALOT and smoked ALOT of pot… but so did my ex so I didn’t think much of it. If people came over to hang out I drank to get the nerve up to have conversations (because I’m painfully shy) I smoked pot to go to sleep at night. When I had my first C-section when I was 22, in recovery and for the next 3 months they had me on Percocet I enjoyed it too much, they seemed to give me the energy I needed as a new mother to take care of my sick child… but when I ran out I ran out no big deal. I got pregnant again when my daughter was 5 months old… Again had to have Another emergency C-section and once again was given Percocet for the next 3 months and once again it helped… around the time my second daughter was 3 months old and I was running out of my Percocet I got pneumonia and started having problems with my tonsils so the dr’s gave me both liquid and pill form of Vicodin to help with the pain and the coughing… This is when I started to spiral out of control… not only taking those taking Cloral hydrate (a hypnotic) and oxycontin… several different sleeping pills, Demerol, Xanax, etc… then I got my tonsils removed and was harder to get the prescriptions… That is when I went to a psychiatrist and was diagnosed with ADD and Manic Depressive Disorder/Bi-Polar.. Started taking meds for it. Was fine for a while then when I left my ex-husband. Then I started dabbling in pills again… I broke my wrist and the Dr prescribed me Soma & Vicodin and that started it all back up. The pills mostly… because when I left my ex husband I lost my job that provided my medical insurance I no longer was able to afford to see my psychiatrist… so I started the pills back up then one night someone introduced me to the powder form of cocaine. I was in over my head instantly… LOVED it it seemed to give me a passion for life I had been missing all along. That addiction lasted for about 6 months… then a hurricane came through and we lost power, had to take care of my family and ended up detoxing because of it didn’t touch it again… for years! Then I started seeing a psychiatrist through ACT/Stewart Marchman I started feeling ALOT better… feeling somewhat normal but still didn’t have any energy, still craved something to make me wanna make it through the day without having to take a nap. Because no matter how much I had to do during the day I couldn’t stop thinking about when I was gonna next be able to lay down on my pillow… Then I got back in touch with an old friend, who eventually ended up being my current husband… He is totally drug free and so was I for a few years… Then my grandmother who I was really close with started getting sick, so I was having to/and wanted to take care of her but needed energy to stay awake so started taking Blues… they helped at first but then when my grandmother passed My use of them and Xanax to deal with the grieving was out of control… So then I got the bright idea to detox off of those to go to a Methadone treatment center so I wouldn’t get sick. Well for the most part it worked wonders until I then was hooked on methadone!!! Which I don’t know which is worse pills or methadone? So I finally after 3 yrs weaned myself off of methadone… and two months later someone offered me Crack cocaine I then had a new addiction cuz it also helped me stay awake throughout the day… so I loved it! Shortly after my husband kicked me out and I was essentially homeless… So I took a bottle of pills trying to not wake up again because I felt my life was over and wanted it done with… Obviously they weren’t strong enough cuz I woke up to an intervention with my parents husband and brother standing over me. Anyways from there I voluntarily went to detox at Deland hospital, they started me on Abilify, & Effexor XR… then went to rehab for 5 months. Rehab I had to take my pills everyday at the same time and started feeling the effects of them working and it turned out the Abilify is what I’ve needed all these years to feel normal and “awake” all day… I don’t feel high I think I just feel like “normal” people feel. Rehab was a pain in the ass but it really helped me! I admire the people that work there and are able to take care of these girls even though most of the girls there end up relapsing and some dying from it… but still they go to work every day and give these girls the tools to get through it! Since leaving rehab I have relapsed a few times… one of the times lead me to get arrested for paraphernalia but that just ended up getting me ordered to another drug program where got random ua’s so helped me keep clean! I was making it to meetings 5 to 7 x’s a week then stopped not only because of a relapse but because I feel alienated at the meetings… it’s probably me but it doesn’t help. I hate that feeling like I’m in hs and the mean girls are bothering me. There are some things I won’t tolerate anymore and anything that makes me feel down on myself can make me want to use so I avoid them. I now am drug free except which I take as prescribed and the combination of the four help me to live a “Normal” life, where I’m free of the ups and downs I used to feel. Don’t feel tired all the time… Depressed. I feel so much better now then I did when I was waking up every morning worried abt getting my fix for the day. The only downside is my weight… the longer I’m off of drugs the more and more weight I gain it seems, but I wouldn’t trade my way of life for anything right now. Thank you to everyone I was in rehab with employees & clients, you know who you are I learned something valuable from each and every one of you! Especially from one of my new bestest friends in the world Ms. Dawn. You keep me in check. Melissa you keep me on my toes too,

On April 2nd, 2014 the last time I relapsed (my new clean date)… Luckily I had this page to turn to for support and when I did I was stunned with the amt of support I got from everyone telling me to stop being hard on myself and to stop hating myself that it was a mistake… all I can say is every time i’ve gone out it’s gotten worse and worse… More and more money, more and more dangerous… I’m glad for now it’s over… I’ve got to keep working on it to stay clean though cuz the minute I stop… I’ll be right back out there!!! Since April 2nd I’ve gotten a sponsor Tammi… she is the bomb!!! Really is a great person… Made some pretty good friends on the site also that I love with all my heart… So things happen for a reason… Not saying that relapsing is good but without my relapse I wouldn’t have my sponsor… and… you know life probably wouldn’t be as “Sunshine & Rainbows” as it is right now. Most days I don’t even think about using… I know that is right now and I also realize I’m about to go through a big mental change which will be the ultimate test to me!!!

These are the things have changed since I first shared my story, we got foreclosed on in August 2014, Shortly after this in September 2014 my sister Stacy passed away from an overdose. I have a lot of regrets about the way things were towards the end of that relationship… But none of those regrets would be made any better by me relapsing or using again, and I know that. Plus I had to stay apart from her or else I chanced relapsing, and If I don’t protect myself who will. So we moved to a new town, my family got really close after the death of one of our own. Then we started experiencing side effects of drug abuse from my nephew Donovan, my sister Kelly’s son. So we called Kelly down here to take care of it, she came down in December 2015, then a little later in February 10th 2016 she passed away from pneumonia. She was only 38. The years of abusing drugs I’m sure didn’t help things, but she wasn’t high at the time of her death, for that I’m proud of her. So I will carry on and try to do what she intended to do with her son. We’ve opened a new chapter since he lost his mom, so I’m trying to make her proud. at the same time take some of the stress off of my parents. Thank you for taking the time to read this life story. I hope this makes people more comfortable sharing their story. Take care.

Amy Sidwell

I joined a 1 yr outpatient treatment program at sobriety works on July 28,2015 and today I’ve got 9 1/2 months clean & also got my 2 beautiful kids back out of foster care cause of the support and guidance from all the staff at sobriety Works i made it thru and will graduate my 1 yr program at the end of July this year. So thank U everyone at sobriety works and thank to my sponsor and my husband and my kids for helping me thru my recovery process. Thank U God for helping me thru it all and never giving up on me.

Kathy Harding

The unexpected gift of recovery and the true “juice” of remaining clean and sober is that by allowing another/others to help me I have been willing to do the same for others. I would not have remained continuously clean and sober without this. Helping others is something we need to do daily to ensure our sobriety.
P89- PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail. This is truth. My second order of business is to practice everything I do from the place of LOVE- JFT/ODAT

Beverly Lee

At the darkest hour of my life I reached out for help. I ended up in recovery at The Treehouse with Addiction Campuses! The best decision I ever made. I am now one year and four months sober and I am now working for Addiction Campuses! Who would have thought a stay at home of four daughters, lost in an addiction, recovered and now working to help others! I am truly blessed beyond measure. My year in recovery has not been easy. I have faced a lot of things that I never thought I would but if I can do it anyone can do it!!

Shelley Brown

My son My hero He lived and now is my Angel in Heaven. My world is a better place because you shared 17 years of your life with me. My son died from an accidental overdose which gave me a reason to advocate louder and more!! I now tell his story to anyone who will listen. I want to introduce you to my son Zacharey who was born 3 months premature as if life isn’t already hard enough. His started out in an incubator at 2 lbs on a machine to breathe, eyes taped shut, heating lights, had jaundice andwas given only a 20 % chance for surviving the 1st night.

Zacharey was a fighter though, and very stubborn. He spent the first month in that incubator without bonding to anyone. I did get to talk to him and he knew when I was there, but leaving him there everytime i left about killed me.

When he finally got to come home he had a heart monitor bag bigger than him that I had to have attached to him at all times and medication (speed) to help remind him to breathe.

He had to be woke up and fed every 2 hours and it took 30 minutes for him to eat. All he had known was the sounds of the hospital until he came home and the first night was a fight. I lived in a domestic violence relationship and the fighting was physical and verbal so he was with practically someone he didn’t know that never held him and always left him behind so he didn’t trust, no longer a peaceful calm safe environment.

Within the first year he had pneumonia, bronchitis, a spinal tap, and had stayedin the hospital numerous times.

At 1 he was still behind on the normal milestones for babies of his age. He also had a breathing machine added that he needed 4 treatments a day. We had been bouncing from house to house because i didn’t have a stable place to live but At 2 I finally got us a home for us to live of course the only thing i had in it was his crib, but hey we had a place to live. He was used to the fighting and now he had begun to learn those traits also. He wouldn’t share anything with anyone, had no length of concentration and started being mean to my cats. He liked his dad more than me at this point because when we’d fight he’d take him shopping for taking his side dad more than me at this point because when we’d fight his dad would take him shopping or give him money for like an apology. By now he was caught up to ‘normal’ milestones for his age.

At 3 he started a home-based headstart like every other week a teacher would come to the house. The first progress notes said zack has no attention span and wouldn’t do anything she asked nor did he have any interest in games or toys. After a few months he would sit and do activities with her for a few minutes but then he’d say I’m done now you can leave.

At 4 I thought oh thank God he gets to go to headstart. I was in drug court and a peri=natal program at that time so he’d go to the program with me 9-12 and then I’d take him to school. Well within the first week he wasn’t allowed at school without me there because he would hit other kids, the teacher and cuss them out. I had to go with him and if I couldn’t get him to listen we’d have to leave which was most of the time.

Kindergarten he got a male teacher and after a few weeks started settling down some. At this time his dad had to move out of the house because drug court made him and things were pretty mellow then. He started counseling at the school and he really liked her.

Second grade his dad was back home and Third grade his counselor moved away. He had made good progress. He was top 10 in the state for math. Then he took a turn for the worse, he was sent to 5 different schools that year for fighting and in December expelled for the rest of the year. No information schoolwork nothing just goodbye.

Fourth grade now behind and struggling he had to go back to third grade basically and then everyone started making fun of him.

By now he had already been labeled by the teachers and kids that stigma again.

So up to this point he has seen domestic violence, drug abuse, liked being alone, was defiant, seeked negative attention, didn’t trust anyone, had no friends, and basically hated everyone. Not to mention called stupid by his peers he was embarrassed for being in third grade again so he had no self-esteem. Being punished again because he only knew how to hate.

Sixth grade ENTIRE NEW WORLD He moved to Oklahoma with his gma until I could get here. He now was the outcast from California and started fighting again. I promised him I’d be here by Christmas but it didn’t happen, I was a week late and I of course lied again so he didn’t trust me again.

When I got here I got a little place with nothing again this time in the coldest winter that had that big freeze and no electric. We finally got settled in and I got a job working nights and I had to leave him alone while I worked. I didn’t know he was scared of the dark, was hearing and seeing things. I started dealing drugs then of course it made it even worse-He would yell at me I hate you all you are is a crackhead

8th grade I got in trouble quite everything decided its time to change for him. God gave me a vision to open a drop-in center and opened all the doors so I did. I went back to school and started working as a Family support Provider.

Zack was flunking out of life and I was trying to show him how I had to start over again and he could too.

He decided to go to California with his dad for a little while then when he came back he wanted to do school on line because the high school wouldn’t let him get his GED they wanted him to go to alternative school and he didn’t want to be an outcast again. On-line school lasted a few months then that was it.

He had a friend that was homeless and I let her come stay with us. I didn’t know she started him taking pills.

He got mad at her and threw her out. While I was at work he started messing with drugs like marijiuana then synthetics and maybe even meth.

He met this girl that had a baby and fell all in love with her. He had a truck but couldn’t drive it because he couldn’t get a license until he was 18 because he wasn’t in school or have a GED. So she moved in and lived with us for awhile then she broke up with him moved out and he was devasted. He got so bad he completely isolated from the whole world. He wouldn’t go anywhere or do anything.

17 ½ and I’m desperate for help. Everyday now I come home and hes high and the house smelled like weed. I had been trying to get him to counseling for years and all of them would tell me he’s really smart, he researched all the meds and asked for what what he wanted and told us what was wrong with him. He would get a med try it for a week the say don’t like it and throw them away. He was getting worse I was frantic to get help Teen Challenge I couldn’t afford it even after they got it down to 500 a month I still couldn’t afford the 1800$ start up fees. DHS, OJA, no one would help. Finally I called my friend a sheriff and explained what he was doing. We set the play and he came out when I got home to talk to Zack because he was high again.

Zack straightened up for awhile but he found out I had set that up and he hated me again. TRUST again!!!

He was on every prayer list in town it was my last hope although we’d been praying for him all along.

I was getting married in a few months but my husband couldn’t move in cuz of his job for 6 mths and I promised Zack I’d be at home with him cuz I wasn’t ever leaving him alone again and I didn’t.

A week before my husband was moving in Zack and I had an argument over his attitude and isolating and he took off to my sisters Long enough for me to hit my knees and say a prayer that would forever change my life. I asked God though to bring Zack home so we could talk and give me the right words to say.

Zack came home and I gave him a big hug and told him how much I loved him. He sat down and cried and started telling me that when he was in California he had laid in the street and asked God to take his life cuz he didn’t have anyone. He asked me why did God leave me there all alone. I told him God didn’t leave u alone he picked you up and carried you out of that street just like he carried me so many times. I showed him the footprints in the sand and explained what it meant and I explained life isn’t easy there will always be struggles but we can make it if we just lean on each other from now on. Zack then asked me – Mom why do you care so much for those people you try to help and I showed him in the bible where his name came from and how God tells us to help others for the rewards in heaven will be great. I explained that’s why I opened the recovery center was to hope to plant that seed of hope and how watching them come in carrying all that weight to becoming a person with hope again was an indescribable feeling of thanks that God had trusted me to do.

Zack n I both have real bad anxiety attacks and we were both having chest pains so we decided we’d go to the hospital together. Well when we got to town he didn’t want to go and said mom I’m staying here at my friends let me know what they tell you. I told him later they admitted me to the hospital so behave til I get home.

We texted and talked all the time I was in there 4 days . On the 3rd day zak texted me that morning and I got him a ride home and something to eat then I told him come up to the hospital with my mom that night. I told him I miss you son and want to see you and I love you. He texted back I no mom I look nasy. I knew right then something was wrong I told my now ex husband to go home have zack call me and stay up with him alol night and watch him somethings wrong.

My ex went home said call ur mom, Zack said “I’ll call her in the morning.” He then went in the bedroom went to bed and shut the door. The next morning right before theyre wheeling me into surgery my ex and the pastor show up and my ex says Shelley he’s gone now you don’t have to worry anymore.

Who’s gone what are you talking about? Zack died last night what how why I told you to watch him then my room was full of people lined up and down the hallway. I don’t remember anything because they gave me medicine and off to surgery I went.

When I got back to my room I saw the news a 17 yr old boy died by Pier 7 last night. What why do they keep saying that. I called the news station and said that boy has a name and a story so don’t play that clip until you know the facts. They released me from the hospital that day and I met with the news crew when I got home.

The planning began for a memorial service because zack wanted to be cremated and his ashes taken to California and scattered in the ocean.

God now what I have nothing!! He said turn this into something positive= save lives. I wasn’t sure I had the energy but the night of his memorial the news crew was there the senator and the whole place was standing room only. I had advertised on the marquee in town- Candlelight vigil –for those still suffering and the one’s we’ve lost to addiction and mental health.

It took a year to coordinate the trip with my kids grandkids mom and zack’s dad but we finally made it May 2014 I set my son free on the beach of santa cruz that’s the background of the pictures.

Why I ask why? I ask why did he have to die-so others could live and that’s why I’m here today asking why don’t we have the awareness for parents, kids, teachers, communities? Why don’t we have the resources for these kids or interventions or education.

He didn’t want to die but he didn’t want to live like that so how are we going to change our state 1 death is unacceptable for lack of resources or lack of awareness.

I have 2 kids right now 20 yr olds mental health/substance abuse she was doing great been working with her for months and she has had so many successes but the other day when she was told her section 8 was going to take a few mths she broke because she’s been homeless since May …when I got there to see her she didn’t even know who I was … she just kept saying I wanna go home this isn’t home.

Is she next? I challenge all of you to make a difference for this girl and so many more like my son and her…

I will not stop fighting until the battle is won…Why? Because that’s what god told me to do and He is the one who opens the doors and the one who will tell me when its time to move on.

At 16 I wouldn’t buy him a motorcycle because I thought he’d get hurt so I was protecting him from what I knew could happen. Wrecks etc

When I would wake up at gmas house when I was a little girl and ask my mom why we were there she’d give me that look and I knew my step-dad had gotten drunk again and we had to leave.

Alcoholism is a disease so next time you see a drunk on the the street do you think look at the bum? Or do you wonder is he self medicating from PTSD because he lost his bestfriend in the war when he was 18.

Being aware of these things would’ve been nice like when I had my first panic attack and though I was dieing and couldn’t breathe, or when my son was taken by ambulance cuz his attack was so severe that he couldn’t talk. Or that Zack had them so severe that he always thought he was dieing and started self medicating too.

My mom never told me Just use those coping skills- breathe in breathe out, Now try grounding yourself and it’ll go away—Use my what skills is that like CPR because that’s all she knew and I don’t want to be grounded I just got to come out of my room today as a mother I knew how to protect him from crashing a motorcycle, don’t buy him one, –I knew how to hold his hand and teach him look both ways before you cross the street but

I didn’t know how to protect him from his own mental health and substance abuse disease.

I wasn’t aware and sure didn’t see it coming at me.

It’s silent, it’s deadly, and no one wants to TALK ABOUT It cause todays society the STIGMA will call me crazy .

Definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result. SO if we continue to not talk about it how can we be prepared?

For years all we have done is put a band-aid on the wound and try to make it better. The fact is we know how to pick them up dust them off and say come on get back in there and fight youre going to be ok but did we prepare them to understand mental health and substance abuse is also a disease!

It just takes a different kind of hospital to meet those need. If I cut off my hand and am bleeding to death the hospital stops the bleeding and gives you pain meds

You can’t see that my brain is bleeding or is different and maybe all I need is some stability or love Can you stop that bleeding.

If I broke my foot youd help hold me or give me cruches. What about showing me how to build a support system so when I fall I will have crutches and not have to fall as far.

You don’t know that the girl sitting alone over there got raped last week or how ashamed and dirty she feels. We don’t know she’s thinking I’d rather die than talk to anyone

I wonder if she knows they have safe places that teaches you how to cope with those emotions and still move forward in youre life I sure didn’t back then. I thought I was the only one.

Zack didn’t believe in God because he couldn’t see or touch him and anything he ever believed him always let him down. He would always make fun of me when I was praying to my ‘imaginary friend.’

I had to pay and beg my son to go to church I didn’t know there was too many people in that small room and he couldn’t breathe.

Finally one day he asked me if he could go. That day he got saved and the next day he came with me to my recovery drop-in center and gave his testimony.

That night his bi-polar kicked in and over to my sisters he went until I called and told him to get home.

While he was gone I prayed God only you can know his future but all his life has been a struggle so give him strength for this fight or if you know its too much and this is the only chance you’ll have that hes saved then take him home so I don’t loose him forever god give me the words to speak to comfort my son so he don’t feel all alone.

After I said that prayer zack walked through the door I held him real close and said I love you son I know you don’t want to fight anymore.

He asked me mom do u love ur job so much I told him because god gave me a vision to use the skills you have and help others in need open a drop-in center.

And He opened all the doors I just had to have faith and I walked through them while we were talking he told me when he was in California he had laid down in the middle of a busy street “ BEGGED GOD TO TAKE his LIFE.”

He asked me why did He leave me laying there all alone I told him the story of the footprints in the sand And explained He never left u Son, it was then that He carried you because you was so weak I told him about all the prayer lists I had him on. He said I can’t believe God carried me when I didn’t believe.

Pam Brooks-Crump, MBA, CARES, IPS

My name is Pam Brooks-Crump and I am a person in long term recovery, and what that means to me is last March 21st, 2016, I had 19 years free from any mind altering drugs or alcohol!! Woot Woot!
I am a better mom of my three kids, Andie, Pablo and Tomas ages, 23, 21 and 17; a better wife of almost 30 years to Gary, a better citizen, a community leader, a recovery coach.

For the last 19 years, I have treated this chronic dis-ease with a daily dose of connection. Connection with my mind, body and soul co-creating with my Source, a life full of family, friends and recovery support earth angels!

I feel when I need to feel; I ask help when I need it; and I give love to myself and others especially those who have been where I have in the throws of addiction. There is ALWAYS hope, never give up!!

For those of you who have lost a loved one, children, and friends like I have, I am deeply sorry for our losses! I will continue to speak out as an advocate for recovery, share my experienced peer support and promote self directed care!

Debra Blum

Narcotics Anonymous saved me and gave me a life beyond anything I could have imagined. Nice Jewish girls couldn’t possibly be addicts and I had to hide my addiction to meth from everyone for a very long time. I had such shame and guilt as I got pregnant from a guy at a convenient store and I used during my pregnancy. That was not something I ever imagined I would do, it was not who I was, it was what the disease of addiction had brought me to. I was very spoiled and it took my enabling grandparents to pass and my enabling parents to quit helping me to get me to stop using. I went to meetings because they said I could not live with them if I didn’t. I got a sponsor and with help from the fellowship, I now have 11 years clean. “One addict helping another, is without parallel”.

Krista Nadeau

Hello Everyone! First and foremost I am Krista… Yes I am a Alcoholic, bottomed out on every drug known to man 9 yrs ago. Crack my favorite. My journey for my personal life recovery began 13 yrs ago.


I have found myself pure joy and love for life after years of drowning my emotions in a bottle. Today a help others seek recovery and I am proud to be a woman on this journey. I share this message on a daily basis and I am more than grateful to be an alcoholic in recovery!!

Grateful Recovering Addict Tracy Doerr

In my use I had lost the privilege to see my children due to their mother not wanting them around a meth addict. During that time I was very angry towards her for disallowing me to spend time with them, for almost 3 years (how dare she) right? While in treatment I began to realize that she was only protecting our children from a monster — me. At this time their mother wanted nothing to do with me nor did she want me to see the kids, but I had a court order for supervised visits. I lived in Mankato MN and traveled to the Twin Cities every other weekend to see my children for a 2 hour visit, it is about a 4 hour round trip. I continued to be persistent and accountable in my kids life and soon those supervised visits turned into day visits and then overnight visits and then to weekends. It took almost 4 years in recovery for their mother to even talk to me again. She only did it because she could no longer avoid me and the involvement I gained back in my kids life. Today I have a friendship with their mother and we co-parent very well together. I have gained her trust and respect back. I never thought I would get to this point with her and it is a blessing. The moral of this story is to do whatever it takes to get the loved ones back that we have lost without complaining. If it is worth it then do it. We are the ones that have caused all this damage in our lives and those who are close to use have also suffered due to our illness that we avoided for so long. Go the distance to prove your worth and all things will work out. Did I want to make that round trip for 2 hour visits? NO, but I did it without complaining. Did I get frustrated? YES, but I said nothing because I knew this was my mess to clean up and I knew my future was looking up. Would I change anything in my past? NO, because it has made me the person I am today and I appreciate the relationships I have formulated today. God Bless You All!

Richard Raftery

My recovery has afforded me the ability to notice that life is worth living. That I’m not alone, that if i share my troubles and my fears with others that we can find solutions together, also that I don’t have to walk through life with the feeling of the world resting on my shoulders. It truly taught me how to care for others, to show up when I say I will, to be available for that person that is still out there on the path of destruction, who is looking for a new way of life. Today I can say to that person, Hey take my hand and Let me show what I found, A path to something new, a path to Freedom , a path to serenity, and a path to whole new way of living. That is what recovery has done for me!! God bless


The recovery process is not an easy road. It was not what I had in mind when this all began. I never could have fathomed that I would be here almost 20yrs later, clean and sober. I ran from myself my whole life, never wanting to be me, or appreciating the life I was given. In recovery, I developed the most important relationship, the one with self, which expanded out to others. I cherish my life and am grateful for all that I’ve been blessed with. Everyday is not always great, however each day not using is a good damn day. I’m not promised tomorrow so all I have is today. I strive to live each day in recovery with reverence, gratitude an humility.

Derek Mackey

I just believe in with all of my heart that somebody helped me and my job is to help others. Sponsorship is the heart beat of the program.

Mary Otremba

I got sober in Germany in english speaking AA. Seven members of AA, and many miles on the autobahn to go to meetings. I am forever grateful to those people. AA gave me a life better than I could have ever dreamed of. The worse day of my life was the last day I was drunk, and it was a gift that gave me this wonderful life of sobriety. I am forever indebted to Alcoholics Anonymous.

Robin Leccese

I struggled with getting clean and sober for years before the miracle happened for me. The last time I hit bottom I lost everything including the will to carry on. Surrendering to the program of recovery changed my life from despair to hope. I was restored to sanity and given grace to start my life over agin. I have witnessed first hand the miracle of healing sobriety has given to me and countless others. I have found the sense of purpose in helping others find their way and give back what had been freely given to me.

James Wilson

I was addicted to one substance or another for 42 years. My father was killed as a direct result of this disease . I used many drugs to mask the way I felt . I even had a heart attack and was given a 5 way bi-pass (surgery) and still went back to using . I have relapsed after various lengths of times mainly due to pain meds. I now have almost 4 years and I remain grateful one day at a time. As you can imagine, there is much more to my story but if you are an addict you already know how and where to use. I was given more second chances than anyone deserves . You might not be as lucky as me so enjoy and try to keep your blessing.

Heather Wendler

For as long as I can remember, my mom has struggled with addiction. I used to pray and beg God to help her so I could have a mom. I had to quit letting her addiction control me and my emotions, but not a day went by that I didn’t pray for her! I honestly never thought the day would come, but after decades of intravenous drug abuse, at the age of 46, my mom became clean and sober. And has been now for almost 9 years. Her sobriety is truly a miracle from God. Thank you, Jesus. He can do this for anyone who wants it. Just never give up.

Kimberly Brennan

Recovery was not a journey I initially went out in search of; It definitely found me as opposed to vice versa. What once was an exhausting life full of sadness, confusion, misery, and despair has morphed into a life filled with hope, love, and desire to help others experience the same. Recovery has allowed me to encounter the grace and love of something bigger than myself on a daily basis. As a result, I’ve become a daughter, wife, sister, niece, friend, employee, and productive member of society. It is a life I wouldn’t trade for anything, and one I can only hope every person suffering from addiction will get the opportunity to experience.


Trudging The Road of Happy Destiny. One of many remarkable spontaneous growth times was the gift of mentoring at Gatehouse in Wickenburg, AZ., one of my most treasured memories. There is no doubt that I was the one being mentored. Grateful for every one that has walked beside me on this journey of, and to serenity. ~beej octogenarian ?


Not a story, just my favorite saying: God may not have opened the gates of heaven to let me in but he certainly opened the gates of hell and let me out.


After serving over 25 years in and out of prison; I was desparate to die yet something or someone had other plans for me and today I left the career I knew for a path in recovery carrying the message and I have returned to school at 50 years old and I am currently working on my BA scheduled for 2017! Nothing changes, if nothing changes – Gratitude


Recovery has provide me with the opportunity to live a life filled with ABUNDANCE!! I have been able to uncover, discover and recover with the help of 12 step programs, family, friends and live my life to the fullest! No matter what I have encountered along my journey, I have been reminded daily in some way that the presence of God surrounds me, guides me and wants only life’s best for me. As long as I have been willing to suit up, show up and do the footwork, I have been shown the path. For this I am most grateful!! You too can do the same!!!


Working in the music industry for over 20 years, meeting Richie Supa and working with him has offered multiple layers of blessings. He has been in recovery now for 27 years. I am not in recovery, but I work at Richie’s treatment center. I have learned and grown spiritually more through this journey than in any other phase of my life. Watching addicts both pass away and pass through coming back to life and living in recovery has been an emotional roller coaster. As a parent I wish that no child ever passes away from this disease of addiction ever again. That likely will not be the case, so we do what we do everyday to help save lives. My journey has helped me to recognize my daily blessings, recognize all the beauty around me and not take anything for granted. I am grateful to be in this position and hope that I can touch those that need help and simply save lives one day at a time.


After a horrible accident at age 37 I got addicted to pain medication. The doctors told me I would get addicted to it, but being I had no history of alcohol or drug abuse they were not worried. Well, after I was out of work for two years due to the accident I went to a detox and got off the pain meds. Two months later… working as a medic my 2nd shift back I was called to the 9-11 disaster . I was so traumatized working there that when I finally came home I started to take my pain meds again. That pill addiction turned into a heroin addiction in two short years. My life got to the point where suicide seemed like the only option. On August 31, 2008 I went to kill myself and right before, I did something I had never done in my life. I got down on my knees and begged a God I wasn’t even sure cared about me for help. A series of miracles happened right after that and I have been clean and sober since.


The common thread is mental illness – Kristin lost her battle and died by suicide on October 11, 2001. This is in memory of her and our family along with all the other families – who now work to make a difference.


My nephew is in he’s second year of long term recovery and he has become someone that I admire and look up to. He lost his younger brother, Michael at the age of 18 to an overdose, as well as, many other friends. Everyday he embraces his recovery, gives back to others and is employed at Father Martin Ashley. This has to stop! We need to put an end to the shame and stigma associated with substance use disorders.


Struggled for a decade in & out of the rooms being told to “keep coming back” until it almost killed me. Met a group of people that didn’t care about my feelings, but cared if I saw another day & said maybe I might try something different & STAY. They taught me how to understand the clear cut directions in the Big Book & live the program not just talk the program.

Rocked my world beyond my wildest dreams. Thank You PPG.


I’ve been an addict for over 10 years, and I never thought I could be where I’m at today, but with hard work, a good network and NA I’ve found a path that is positive. I’ve never been happier and sobriety has been pretty rad. This is the best path I could have taken and wish I could have done it sooner.


I never thought that I was worthy of being happy. Coming from a place of abandonment and sexual abuse, I felt defective in my body and in my spirit. Being at deaths door, in broken spirit, I cried out to a God I didn’t know, and asked for help. I realize, looking back, that my God, my HP, became my teacher once I knew He was in charge. Not me. Who would have ever thought that a crack smoking, pill popping, alcoholic drinking whore, could find peace and joy in the 12 Steps, and live beyond my wildest dreams? My life is devoted to spreading a message of hope to the suffering….. to the newcomer. . To people just like me. I’m sooooo grateful to be alive. Almost 28 years clean! Miracle.


Please get into recovery. Live. Beat this! Be stronger than a drug. Life can and will be wonderful, full of ups and downs and lots of disappointments, but you don’t need drugs to help you thru…you have a brain and friends, family…those are what will help you. Please…fight! My son died from a heroin overdose…please, don’t lose your battle. Don’t put your mother, your family thru the pain of your death. She loves you. She needs you in her life, happy, healthy and alive.


I am Laurel. My family and I are in recovery, which means to me that my son has not used alcohol or drugs for the last three years. In the past five years I have seen the golden lights that shine in long term recovery. This gave me hope that my son could also become the shining light that he is today. I have recovered from co-dependency myself and no longer live with fear or resentments controlling my life. I am able to face my fears and get past them; I can fly, zip line and try many new things. I advocate recovery because it has changed my life for the better. I love being part of a community that focuses upon building a person up. My family and I are beacons of hope for others.

What does this truly mean, now that we’ve been in recovery for three years? For me it means that I constantly look for ways to improve who I am, I look for ways to increase my spirituality, to remain a happy and fulfilled person. I look for ways to advocate recovery and to help change the way people perceive the recovery community. I try to stay on God’s path for me and not get bogged down in the day to day humdrum that life can be sometimes. When I get inpatient, I slow down and remember to enjoy each moment, life is about the journey, not the destination. I try to live a life of forgiveness, even though it can be tough at times, because even though I attract good, loving people for the most part, the negative ones show up once in a while. I’ve also learned that I don’t have to forgive right away; I can let it simmer for a while and let it go when I’m ready. I’ve learned that it’s ok to be sad, or mad or just have an off day, it truly makes me appreciate the good days. I’ve learned that I have way more good days then not so good days. I still have lots to learn and I need to have the courage to speak up in crowded rooms. I’ve learned to love myself and the woman that I’ve become through this journey. I have a lovely husband and two wonderful children that make me proud every day. I have a wonderful life!


My Dad’s recovery was a true example of his strength. He struggle with addiction never stopped him from being an example. He often shared that “in time as soon as I make up my mind to I will win this battle”. He continued to love us through it all; it was that love that allowed us to be able to have a better understanding of his struggle and to forgive his short comings. Today, I draw from his strength and determination to fight against the things in life that grab hold of us and try to destroy our spirit. I am a better person because I know now that “as soon as I make up my mind I will accept the fact I am victorious, the battle is already won”.

Bunky Jill

My recovery tale is a very long one that started at my first AA meeting on April 17, 1972. I arrived there drunk and in a “black-out”. Back then there was no detox or re-hab; lots of us died; like they are dying today. Full circle. My road was punctuated with a lifetime of success and mistakes: a relapse at 8 years, two divorces, getting my Masters in Social Work, having the best darn job one could have as an addiction counselor, and marrying my high School sweetheart. The list goes one. One truth I am absolutely sure of is right before I stumbled into my first AA meeting I prayed in earnest…please help me…and at that moment the Grace of God entered and has been with me ever since. Now I try to pass it on whenever I can because I am still overwhelmingly GRATEFUL to be sober!


When I was 13 years old I realized something was not right with my father. I struggled to understand what was going on with him. I later learned my father had a drug addiction. He was no longer my father I knew growing up and things changed quickly. At first I had no idea how to handle it and was a total mess. This than lead me to my own problems with drinking. I was rarely home because I didn’t want to deal with it nor did I know how too. I mean come on I was only 13! Throughout high school I became more distant from my father which is crazy because we live together! And I began to drink more because I myself didn’t realize how bad drinking can really be but made me forget my worries. I thought well it something legal so why not. Than came my senior year of high school….. My father I grew up with was actually my stepfather but raised me since i was months old, so he was my father to me. My biological father was never around or in the picture. I later got a call while with classmates from a Coroner’s office to learn that my biological father died. The reason he was not around was because he had a drinking problem which lead to his death. This made me really think about my choices i was making. I began to look into the medical filed my senior year to get my foot in the door. I struggled and fought my way up into the medical field and began working for a recovery center. Little did I know that working here would eventually not only save my father but my family. A few months later my father went off the deep end and our family fell apart. It was very devastating to me. One day I got a call my father was in a psychotic episode and no one knew what to do. I decided it was up to me to make a move. I called and had the local pd come along with a ambulance so they could take him in and evaluate him. That was the beginning of a wake up call for him. It put a strain on the family and forced me to leave home with no where to go. My father seeing that he was the reason this was happening to me immediately seen how the addiction affected his family. I began talking with my team I worked with at my recovery center and what options I had. Although my recovery center wasn’t the fit for him we were still able to come up with a plan. I got him to talk to my counselor I work with and she was able to get through to him. He than made a plan with her that he would see our Dr and do what ever he recommended. Little did I know my coworkers would be the ones to help me get my father back along with my family. Addiction is a hard battle but it can be beat!!! I was 13 years old when this started and I am now 28! Point is no matter how long it takes never give up on anyone with addiction. If you continue to stick my their side and help and push them, than anything is possible…. My Father did it so you can to….


Don’t give up before the miracle happens! Nothing changes if nothing changes, only you can make it work. I personally had to lose everything ( multiple times ) before the changes occurred.


So what happened was…….. I used drugs and alcohol on a daily basis for 38 years. I finally became homeless, jobless, hopeless and sick and tired of being amongst the living dead in 2005. I went into a Detox for the 4th time and surrendered to the fact that I needed more treatment. I successfully completed inpatient, IOP and a halfway house in 18 months. Even though I’d renewed my Nursing license just before going into treatment It was suggested that I not return to my profession as an R.N. because I was a felon. I became employed making minimum wage in a Desert Moon franchise as a cashier and working the grill for 5 months. After that I landed a medical unit clerk position at the rehab where I graduated from in 2007. When I celebrated 4 years of being clean I decided to renew my license before I would have to take a refresher course and an exam again. Well to my surprise The Board of Nursing allowed this felon to renew HOWEVER after my background check results I had to explain my criminal charges in writing to The Board of Nursing. Well now I’m told in order to maintain my status and work as a Professional Nurse I would have to attend a Nursing monitoring program for 5 years. WELL I had 4 years clean so why did I have to be monitored for 5 years!! I was so angry and had an immediate resentment right? I mean along with weekly meetings I had to check in EVERY day including Holidays to see if I was selected for a urine, couldn’t work overtime or have a part time job, work nights nor for an agency and PAY for IT! It was the 2nd or 3rd Nurse peer group meeting when I had a rude awakening! You see although I had 4 years clean I had ZERO years clean working as a Professional Nurse! Now here’s the HOPE: As of today June 7, 2015 I have successfully met the terms of that mandatory monitoring program’s 5 year contract and have regained the TRUST and stamp of approval from The Board of Nursing that I am safe to practice Nursing without being monitored! I have my Saturdays back!! So I said all that just to say this if you are working in the health care field as a CNA, HHA and want to further your Education but are a felon? Take heart YOU can do it because The Board of Nursing recognizes that “ADDICTION is a DISEASE!” I thank GOD because practicing Nursing is my passion and I’m starting to believe my purpose. I’m happy about the whole damn thang! THANK you GOD! I’m a grateful, recovering Addict called Linda


The day I realized that I was physically dependent on pain pills was scary, and instead of getting out then, I just got high again… every day, for the next two years, going through the vicious cycle that is physical and mental addiction. I suffered in silence and secret, without telling anyone in my daily life. I was terrified of having to face inpatient rehab or losing my job and friends. Then I learned that I could handle it privately, under a physician’s care, and got on suboxone maintenance. I was able to get back on my feet while keeping my job and personal life in place. Pills had taken the place of everything – my hopes, dreams, friends, finances, and future relationships – for so long that I didn’t even realize how little I was really LIVING. I’m now clean and I’ve lived my life more each day than I ever did while addicted and high. There’s so much I’m looking forward to, and I wouldn’t be here without the help of my doctors and counselors and a few special friends. I am proof that there are people highly functioning while suffering in silence, with the darkness of opiate addiction lying just under the surface. I am also proof that you can initiate recovery yourself, without ultimatums or expensive recovery centers. I ask that you be the kind of person who people come to knowing they won’t be judged, and provide unconditional support for anyone you know who struggles with addiction.


Alcohol allowed me to tolerate an emotionally abusive husband instead of standing up for myself. I stopped drinking to get pregnant, but started again after 3 babies. For the next 11 years I’d wait until all were asleep, then mix 8+ ounces of vodka with diet Squirt and drink myself to sleep. My husband knew, but never mentioned it. My “bottom” wasn’t a DUI or a divorce or a fall down the stairs; it was when I couldn’t live ONE DAY LONGER that way. I quit, and immediately spiraled into a deep depression. I went to rehab 3 weeks sober, and was there 3 weeks. After a lifetime in church, this was the beginning of my real walk with God. It’s been 22 years, with no cravings or relapses. My kids are a hot mess (2 addicted sons); my marriage is stronger, but still an uphill battle. Sobriety hasn’t been a magic wand, but I wouldn’t trade the strength and peace I have now for any amount of numbness. God is good, all the time.


I am blessed to live in the world of recovery. The Homestead Inn 1765 is an amazing place to bear witness to what recovery looks like! There are so many stories of hope, strength, and courage here there are too many to list I will share a picture to express this amazing place of hope!


I was so sad. My brother told me “they will help you with everything else, too.” Those were magic words to me, I was willing to do anything to feel better. So I went to Father Martin’s Ashley for 28 days which is the beginning of my recovery journey. I was happy to learn I had a disease and it was treatable. I took every “suggestion” and dove into a 12-Step program which has become the foundation for my life. Relationships have been healed, starting with the one between God and me, and continuing through my family and friends. I’ve put myself through school, and I’ve lost the fear of not being good enough. Today I am happy- very, very happy- and forever grateful to have the gift of recovery. It’s hard work and worth every single second of effort. I have been blessed with a life beyond my wildest dreams. Today I choose to be happy, joyous and free and that’s the best place ever to be! Never give up!


Recovery is so much more than just not drinking or drugging. It is a way of life filled with gratitude, acceptance, love of others, and helping someone else on their journey. Thanks to the 12 steps and to those who believed in me until I could believe in myself, I now can live a beautiful life on its terms and not mine. Thank You God.


My son struggled with addiction for 10 years, failed out of high school, stole from us, lied continuously. But I never gave up. I always had hope. I stayed strong through NARANON. Today, 8 years of recovery, he is graduating with a bachelors, getting married and the most loving and caring man I knew was trapped inside of addiction. Never give up hope, but always stay strong and work on your self to help them work on their self.


I owe it all to God. My life is such a gift today.


I left my whole life, my husband, my dogs, my house and his family that became my own just to be in recovery. I lived in a few different womens shelters. I left my job. I gave it all up and I would do it again in a heartbeat. It has been an amazing journey. Instead of my life revolving around drugs, drinking, money and people who didn’t care about me; my life became about staying clean. Staying clean brought many beautiful things to my life, true love, true friends, forgiveness, true happiness, and my family. I won’t lie and say it was easy but I will say you are worth it. My fiancee is an absolute saint he takes my recovery so seriously and so lovingly. I haven’t always been the best to him but he certainly has been the best to me. He truly is my better half. I have real friends who know I am an addict and we talk freely about it. True friends who are there when I don’t have drugs or loads of money to spend. My mother and my father are a huge part of my life. They know everything! They made mistakes along the way but I am truly grateful for them. Recovery is about doing everything you can one second one minute one hour and one day at a time to stay clean. Recovery is about acceptance, love, forgiveness (of self and others). Recovery is truly a gift and I am thankful for it.


It’s been a long and winding road. When I remained humble, reached out to others on the same path, and made a list of things I was grateful for every single day, my path became easier. I hope with all my heart that others can learn from this too.


Jewish Community Services has been offering addiction prevention programs for the last 30 years to literally thousands of members of our community. Without our volunteer speakers who have been sharing their stories of addiction and their recovery, our programs would not have hit home to the degree that they have over the years.

Kristina Shaver

I left my whole life, my husband, my dogs, my house and his family that became my own just to be in recovery. I lived in a few different womens shelters. I left my job. I gave it all up and I would do it again in a heartbeat. It has been an amazing journey. Instead of my life revolving around drugs, drinking, money and people who didn’t care about me; my life became about staying clean. Staying clean brought many beautiful things to my life, true love, true friends, forgiveness, true happiness, and my family. I won’t lie and say it was easy but I will say you are worth it. My fiancee is an absolute saint he takes my recovery so seriously and so lovingly. I haven’t always been the best to him but he certainly has been the best to me. He truly is my better half. I have real friends who know I am an addict and we talk freely about it. True friends who are there when I don’t have drugs or loads of money to spend. My mother and my father are a huge part of my life. They know everything! They made mistakes along the way but I am truly grateful for them.

Recovery is about doing everything you can one second one minute one hour and one day at a time to stay clean. Recovery is about acceptance, love, forgiveness (of self and others). Recovery is truly a gift and I am thankful for it.


In the summer of 2008, I found myself drunk on the midnight bus again in the middle of Sydney, Australia. I was on a work assignment halfway around the world from home in Maryland with my two kids and nanny and decided I could have one more drink then lost count…again. Endless promises to myself were broken for years. I wouldn’t do “it” again and again I was stumbling drunk on the bus ride home. This had to stop. After 3 years in AlAnon to deal with my children’s alcoholic father, I knew in my heart that I was one of “them” or us! I slipped once at a business function and reset my sober date to 7/11/08! I’m grateful to be alive and sober. Long term sobriety makes me a better woman, mom, worker, wife and citizen. I’ve learned that growing up in an alcoholic home is not my excuse to pass it on. My great grandmother married and buried an alcoholic then 100 years later I did the same thing before recovery. If my only accomplishment in this life is to break the alcoholic generational hold on my family by being a sober mom in recovery, then I have lived well.


I am SO proud of my daughter Caroline…. She is in early recovery and has almost 3 mos. clean. She is living in a halfway house. Everyday she gets up, works her program and just started a job. Its hard work and we hope we are doing everything we can to support her in a positive way. It took her a long time to decide she wanted a different life than the one she was living. Every day is a choice and today she is an inspiration to me. Just for today!


I lived the first 56 years of my life feeling isolated and like I did not belong anywhere. The only relief I found was through the numbness that alcohol brought until I could no longer stand the pain that always lingered behind the scene. It was either death or or a new beginning. In sobriety I have found fellowship, acceptance, and the love that has always been available to me.


Through the support of Nar-anon, our journey was one of love and understanding.


I got drunk for the first time at age 13 at a teenage drinking party in Avalon, NJ. There was a large punch bowl filled with grain alcohol jungle juice and I was eager to try alcohol, as it was a constant in our household growing up. I wanted to be cool and I wanted to fit in. But it was never the taste that made me chase it, it was the alcohol buzz. The effect that it produced was one that I loved and craved. Then, when I tried cocaine at age 16 for the first time and that combination together, it was like BAM! I’ve arrived! Within a few years I was dating a drug dealer and my usage increased. My 20s were a bit of a blur and wild, but by 30 I had become a “recreational” cocaine user and a daily drinker. I also had a thriving career so I was considered a high-functioning alcoholic. I was able to make my weekend drug use and daily drinking work within my lifestyle as I only hung out with others that drank and used the way I did. I thought I was a typical “party girl” and weekend warrior. By 32, I had racked up my first DUI. I also moved over 22 times during these years and kept jobs for 2-3 years until I knew they’d find me out. I was able to maintain pretty well. But I knew I had a problem, I just didn’t really care. Alcohol and cocaine were the two things that made me feel normal and happiest.

In November 2003, I was drunk and typing in my journal about how messed up my life was. I knew I needed help, but I was scared. A few months later, at age 37, I received my 2nd DUI in San Diego – a town I had been living in for the past few years – and sitting in that jail cell for 11 hours really made me think and made me think that I needed to do something different. In May 2004, I walked into a meeting. I left that meeting and quicker than you can say alcoholic, I went out and drank for a week – during that week I had my moment of clarity. My first real A-ha moment; I realized that everything bad that had ever happened to me during my life was from drinking and drugging. I may want to give the sobriety thing a try. So, that’s what I did. I had heard hope in that first meeting and I clung onto that hope and walked into recovery with complete blind faith. I had no idea what to expect as I knew nothing about sobriety. I got sober the AA way; 90 meetings in 90 days. I got a sponsor, I worked the steps and I did what the woman in recovery told me to do. I didn’t want anyone in my family or corporate life to know what I was doing, so treatment wasn’t an option for me. I’m grateful I got sober the way I did and I’m so appreciative of the Fellowship where I got sober. I wouldn’t change a thing. AA doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s just what worked for me.

I’ve been able to live life today free from the bondage of alcohol and drugs. I don’t hang out in seedy places, I don’t get DUIs anymore, I don’t wake up in stranger’s beds and I don’t have to wonder what happened the night before. I was able to get married in recovery and share my journey with someone else who gets me and who is also in recovery. I rescued my constant companion and dog, Lucy, and she brings me so much joy. I have been able to maintain and make new friendships – I get to live and participate in my life today. The freedom I have today is just amazing and the fact that I get to live my life today without lying, manipulating, cheating and stealing is all just gravy to me. I am just so happy that I don’t HAVE to drink today. I am a strong supporter of AA and helping others and being of service. I am grateful I don’t need a drink to manage my life and that I get to have choices today – healthy choices on who I want to be, not who alcohol and cocaine want me to be. As Sir Elton John once said in an interview, “My biggest accomplishment in my life is getting sober, it’s not the grammy’s, the money, being Knighted or the records I’ve sold, it’s my sobriety!”

That drunken journal entry turned into a Memoir that I recently launched via Kindle, “Last Call, A Memoir”. It’s a story of my experience, strength and hope. My hope is that I can help someone – anyone – that may be able to relate to my life as a “social party girl” and realize that they too have a chance at a better life. A life where they will be able to wake up in the morning and have dignity, integrity and self-love – because that’s what living a clean and sober life has given me.

Jennifer Kurt

I didn’t know what was wrong with me for a while. I just knew that I didn’t have the tools to navigate life that my friends seemed to have been born with. I wanted more than anything to find out what was wrong and have it fixed. The “fix” for a substance use disorder required a complete lifestyle change. Recovery seemed scary at first, but the life I have today is better than I knew possible. I’m still learning those tools to navigate life, but with ambition instead of hopelessness. Recovery is intimidating when you’re just starting out, but it is absolutely and entirely possible.

Tim Rabolt

Before recovery, I felt alone in a room full of people. Using in isolation kept me numb and shut off from the outside world. In recovery, I no longer have to live a life of secrecy and shame. The life of recovery has enabled my to exceed my own expectations, discover my true passion, and give back to my community. Recovery has reunited me with my family and helps me fight the daily battle against the disease of addiction. I no longer have to hide away from reality due to my never-ending fear of the future. Never alone. Never again.