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My Road to Long-Term Recovery from Opioid Abuse

Summary: 
Without recovery I would not be the proud, hard-working, resilient, hopeful man I am.

I grew up in an average home. I went to decent schools. I was raised by good parents. Yet here I am, a person in long-term recovery from opioid abuse.

My substance use disorder took effect the day I traded two CD’s for six prescription painkillers. I didn’t even know what opioids were until I heard the “cool” kids at high school talking about them. When I heard a friend had broken his toe and had some prescription drugs that he wasn’t using, my curiosity took over.

For many years, the road to recovery seemed out of reach, and a life of substance misuse seemed my only route. Opioids were my lover, my teacher, and my best friend. They overshadowed all that was important to me and distorted the faces of those I loved.

These years were marked by feelings of hopelessness, emptiness, loneliness, despair and desperation. Those feelings exhibited themselves in erratic behavior, lies, car accidents, isolation and legal issues. An accidental overdose left me in a coma for almost five days.

My turning point came early January, 2014, as I was driving my father home from the hospital where he had a minor operation. He said he wasn’t feeling well and that I might need to pull over. He pointed to a hospital sign and then he lost consciousness. In that moment, I saw both of our lives flash before my eyes. Everything seemed to re-prioritize itself in that moment. I vowed that from then on I would take my life and the lives of those I loved more seriously.

Now, as a person in long-term recovery from opioid use disorder, I have been given a second chance. I’m now free to be the man I was meant to be, the man I always was, even in those dark and difficult moments. The only reason I am here today is because treatment is effective, and recovery does happen.

President Barack Obama talks with introducer Jordan Coughlen backstage prior to a community forum on the prescription drug abuse and heroin epidemic, at the East End Family Resource Center in Charleston, W.Va., Oct. 21, 2015.
President Barack Obama talks with introducer Jordan Coughlen backstage prior to a community forum on the prescription drug abuse and heroin epidemic, at the East End Family Resource Center in Charleston, W.Va., Oct. 21, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

What got me to where I am today is a lot of loving, understanding, patient, compassionate people. I didn’t have just one stint in treatment; I didn’t have just one go at this. But what I did have was people who stood by me, people who cared. What they imparted to me that entire time was not to give up on myself. My recovery is supported by the love and support of my family and friends, my faith, mindfulness meditation, a faith-based support group, and a desire to help others.

I have come to recognize that recovery is not a one-size-fits-all experience. There are multiple pathways, including medication-assisted treatment, moderation management, harm-reduction methods, and a variety of 12-step support groups.

Each pathway needs to be equally respected, because all people in or seeking recovery deserve equal access to treatment, housing, education and employment.

Substance abuse does not discriminate. It does not know race, class or creed. Recovery should not discriminate either.

Do you need help fighting your addiction? Do you know someone else who does? You can find resources here and here.

Today, I am working as the peer recovery specialist at Youth Services System Inc. in Wheeling, West Virginia, a nonprofit youth agency that has been assisting at-risk youth and families for more than 40 years. I am also pursuing a master’s degree in social work. I even had the opportunity to introduce President Obama at a community opioid forum in Charleston, West Virginia.

Without recovery, I would not have the good relationship I have with my family and friends. Without recovery I would not be the proud, hard-working, resilient, hopeful man I am.

A story worth reading: Jordan writes about his road to recovery from #opioid #abuse. http://1.usa.gov/1S63I7z

 

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opioids
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