I am a Human: I am way more than my addiction.
My name is Chris and I am currently in my second semester of the Human Services Associate program at Western Technical College. When people find out I am a recovering addict, they tend to look at me and talk to me differently. Facing these barriers has helped me stay motivated to educate others that addicts can achieve anything. Being a success story to help other addicts in their journey is what pushes me to continue school and to help others as a career. Ultimately, I just want to be happy in life, but specifically, I am thinking about getting a Bachelor's degree in Social Work, then maybe my Master’s degree. Throughout my journey, I want to make sure all my hard work is worth it.
My family, from the youngest members to the oldest, are big supporters in my life today. Along with my family, I have a circle of friends who are also in recovery. These people hold me accountable. I have changed everything. I changed my choice of friends and the road I thought I was on. In my early recovery, the coping strategies I used included engaging self-talk, (which sometimes turned into self-shouting), actively participating in 12-step meetings, and doing small things like washing coffee cups after meetings. Since the beginning of my recovery, these strategies have changed a small amount. Today, I use skills like meditation, serving my community and making myself visible to the public instead of living a sheltered life. Because of the obstacles I have faced, and from being in recovery, I have developed thick skin. I now know I can get through most things. I believe that these challenges I have faced will help me in the future.
The stigma of what an addict is supposed to look like follows me. When I’m sick or have a headache, people start to think that I may be taking steps back instead of continuing forward. To help remove the stigma around recovery, I would say the person in recovery should get to decide who he/she wants to be during recovery. If I could give my younger self advice, I would tell myself to “go home and go to bed.” Through it all, I would like people to see me as an uncle, a student and a human. I am not an ex-con and I am not a junky, I am just a person.