Updated: Mar 23, 2020
By: Matthew Kerner, Mountaineer News Contributor
Posted: March 22, 2020 | 03:20AM EST
For the past 14 years as we have celebrated the Easter season, I have been inspired to reflect on those with whom I have crossed paths along my own recovery journey. I am reminded that I have been blessed to have borne witness to the resurrection and rebirth into new life of hundreds if not thousands of people who through addiction had become dehumanized, degraded, and marginalized.
These were the people who others tried to force out of their neighborhoods, who’s very existence was demeaned as others felt that it was okay to refer to them not by their names but by their pathology. To many they were only junkies, dopeheads, drunks, and druggies, they had their humanness stripped away as others forgot that they were someone’s child, they were siblings, and often they were parents, or grandparents. The process of stigmatization made it okay for some to believe that those with substance use problems lived totally devoid of conscience that they had completely lost their capacity to be human and were nothing more than animals deserving of derision. This stigmatization was so pernicious that many of us started to believe what we were told about ourselves. We have seen people in recovery lifted up as subject matter experts when they have turned against those they have left behind disparaging them as unable to act in any way responsible while most of us know that people trapped in active addiction still love their families and their friends, they morn losses and celebrate the victories of others they are still human, they are not bad people, they are sick people in various stages of addiction and various stages of awareness that recovery is possible.
In the past 14 years I have met people from all over the world who have found recovery in various ways. Some have been through religious recovery programs, some have been through secular programs, and the majority who I know personally have found recovery through 12 step programs that are spiritual in nature but not religious. I have met people in recovery from many religions, ethnicities, orientations, nationalities and socio-economic backgrounds. I know people in recovery who are doctors, attorneys, clergy members, and I know people who were born as drug exposed infants some of whom will struggle eternally with the behavioral, and physical consequences of how they entered this life.
I know people in recovery who are doing all that they can do to hang on and stay alive while others are thriving in their new lives and rarely look back. There are also a tremendous number of us who are so grateful for our new lives that we spend much of our time helping others receive the gift of recovery that we have received, some of us do it professionally and some of us do it voluntarily because it helps keep us connected to our own recovery. As I continue to introduce my friends in recovery you will see that while they are varied in terms of background and current circumstances one thing remains constant, every single one of them whether they are white, red or black, Christian, Atheist, Muslim or Jewish, gay or straight, American, Canadian or Iranian, wealthy, or poor was created in the image of God and is beloved by their creator even if you despise them. They have all experienced mental, emotional and spiritual death and have reborn into brand new lives that should be celebrated.
As I introduce you to new people, I will introduce you to new information about Substance Use Disorders and recovery. We will talk about things like Stigma, Harm reduction, Prevention, Intervention, Treatment, and Recovery. I am someone who understands that my experience with recovery is not THE experience so everything I share will be evidence based and supported by science. Occasionally I run into people who tell me that they don’t believe the science. If that’s you, take your stockpiled hand sanitizer back to the store so someone else who believes in science can use it.
Prevention works, Treatment is effective, and Recovery is possible.
Hi, my name is Angie White and I’ve put together 2 ½ years of uninterrupted clean time. I knew I had to change my people, places and things so when I was arrested this last time and went to jail, I hit my knees surrendering my life to the God of my understanding and prayed for help and guidance for recovery.
My prayers landed me at The Hampshire Lighthouse Recovery Home, 2 ½ hours away from my hometown of Buckhannon where I was a menace to society, supporting myself by using and selling drugs. I spent 14 months in this structured environment with an honest mouth, open mind and willingness to do anything to stay clean and to remain teachable to learn how to live life on life’s terms without the drugs.
I then was allowed to move out for Phase V of the program and in with my husband and son who had moved here with nothing but our clothing, we worked hard to establish a home, furnishings and a couple of vehicles, once I paid my fines off to obtain my driver’s license. I desperately utilized my Therapist, My 12 Step Sponsor, Recovery Coach and Peers in the community when I felt like I was struggling by taking suggestions and trying anything once. I’m discovering more of who I am by restoring and adding to my moral values to become a better mom, wife and friend and setting better examples for them.
Just a short 2 ½ years ago, I prayed for death, I was stuck in a deep, dark hole that I couldn’t get out of. Today I am grateful for the life I am living, not just existing. I have a wonderful job working at a Women’s Recovery Home helping and loving Women like my staff did for me.
I owe Matthew Kerner, Executive Director of The Opportunity House, praise as well on my success so far, he accepted me back in 2014 as a resident of his 6 month Women’s Home which I completed. I now understand “the getting a seed planted” slogan, I believe that is why I hit my knees in jail this past time asking for help and guidance from my higher power, because I truly couldn’t quit on my own! I’m living proof that Recovery Works, if you work it and We Do Recover!
March 14, 2020