Being a part of my community has been one of the biggest contributors to my success in recovery. During my active addiction, I was always seeking a sense of belonging and ultimately was never able to authentically fulfill that need. It was not until I joined YPR and began developing a network of likeminded people with shared experience that I found what I had been searching for most of my life.
Starting at the tender age of 11, I spent over 15 years in a cycle of self-destruction, consistently losing everything that ever meant anything to me. Like so many of us that battle addition, life had dealt me sub-par hands and my bluff was to numb myself from all the heartache I experienced. As I was an active participant in my own demise, I was also impacted by the heart break of losing loved ones to their own addictions. A handful of my closest friends lost their lives between 2013 and 2017. I was 23 when I lost my best friend and roommate at the time. I fell apart. I was 27 when I lost another brother, and nearing 3 month into my own recovery journey. This was the moment that lit the fire for me to do something and become part of a solution to prevent the senseless deaths of the incredible people who fall into addiction. I have experienced more loss, but these two wonderful people are the ones that have the biggest impact in my recovery. Their wild spirits remain alive within me in the day to day work I engage in for recovery.
I discovered YPR in the fall of 2017 and was immediately inspired to get involved. Prior to learning about this amazing organization, I had begun engaging in grassroots community organizing to create a resource that brought recovery to the forefront and reduce the stigma associated with substance use disorder. I met with a group of mostly strangers who were also ready to see and be those changes, all connected by the tattered thread of addiction woven into our society. Those strangers became some of my dearest friends and still play an active role in my community and recovery.
Through YPRs platform I was able to take our vision and elevate the conversations above what I could have imagined. The resources, support, and training provided through YPR have empowered me to be a leader in my community, someone that is looked up to by my peers, as well as well-respected community professionals working in behavioral health, criminal justice and community wellbeing.
Because of the support from YPR, I am proud and unashamed to speak openly about recovery. Raising my voice has encouraged countless community members to reach out and begin to explore their own paths to recovery. So many of us remain sick because we are terrified to admit what we have experienced. I cannot explain the feeling of allowing yourself to be vulnerable about our darkness, to be met with so much love, support and understanding. What I can say is that it gives me the strength to carry on. YPR has helped me to embrace that addiction is not something to be ashamed of. Not only does my story help others find their own strength and courage, I get to keep the memories of my lost loves ones alive and bring purpose to the battles they lost.
I am so grateful for the opportunities that have been provided to me through YPR. With the support and leadership at YPR, I have sustained my recovery since December 18th 2016, I am a leader for recovery in my community, I have attained countless employable skills through the events and activities we provide to the community, my life is full of meaningful and healthy relationships. These skills that were taught to me have led to my volunteer role transitioning into a full time staff role with the organization I admire and appreciate so much.
Today, the pain I used to harbor has become my power. I have found purpose and meaning in every experience, whether good or bad. I have a passion for recovery and with the help of YPR will continue to shout about it from the rooftops so that anyone I meet know that recovery is possible. The glass is no longer half empty for me, but rather it overflows with abundance and hope.