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This article was written for Mental Health America of Northeast Indiana by Cecelia Johnson of Recognition Works. Cecelia believes strongly in the power of good deeds and recognizing great work. That’s why she created The site is dedicated to connecting those who’ve been awarded for exemplary work in their communities to companies and organizations that can help them continue their admirable efforts through donations, sponsorships, and gifts. By making these connections, she hopes to build stronger, more altruistic communities and citizens.

Recovery Awareness: Addiction Survivors Share Their Experiences

The drug epidemic in our country continues to grow. It is an all-too-common element in our daily news cycle. But what about the addicts themselves? We hear about the scourge of drugs, but we don’t hear about the experiences of the people lost in their disease.

September is National Recovery Month, and as part of recognizing those who have survived substance abuse, I spent some time speaking with several graduates of addiction treatment. These brave souls were kind enough to share their stories with me.


‘There is Purpose, There is Hope’

Jimmy, a recent graduate of addiction treatment at A Forever Recovery in Michigan, was ready to give up his addiction to drugs and alcohol after realizing he could no longer handle the daily obligations of life.

[Treatment] pushed me to dig within myself and to really try to identify who I am as a person. I think for a long time I was seeking who I really was. Who am I really to myself, to my family, to my son? I needed instant gratification. I wanted the outcome and the reward and not do all the work. But now, it’s the opposite. Do the work for yourself and the reward will be mind boggling. You don’t have to end your life this way. You can live life to the fullest. There is purpose, there is hope. And if you dig deep, you shall set yourself free.”


‘Happy to Be Alive’

Ryan, from Ohio, was an active heroin user for the last five years. Hurting his loved ones made him realize he needed help.

“I started lying, cheating and stealing from my friends and family, and doing stuff I knew was wrong in my heart. It really made me evaluate that I wanted to go and seek help. I tried to quit on my own, but I couldn’t. I knew I needed help from an external source.”

And Ryan’s hard work in therapy has paid off.

“I wake up every day just happy to be alive and happy to go on with the day, and I can handle anything that comes at me.”


‘They Gave Me a Lot of Love’

Wesley, from New York, found that his relapse was the pivotal moment that pushed him to seek treatment.

“My primary drug of choice was heroin. I wound up staying on the streets for almost a year. My relapse in Brooklyn, New York, was the event that led me to treatment.

“Meeting other people who were graduates from [a treatment facility] was an inspiring thing for me. It encouraged me to go forward. It gave me an opportunity to see that the work that needed to be done was necessary. They gave me a lot of love. I hadn’t experienced that in such a long time. And at that time in my life, I was in need of some love and some real care. So I thank God for the people who are on the front lines of withdrawal who paved the way and gave me the opportunity to give myself a chance.”


Please join me in celebrating those who have reclaimed their lives by making the courageous decision to seek help for substance abuse. It is through these success stories that we can spread awareness, and help those who are suffering understand that there truly is another way.