Stories are powerful tools to communicate and promote understanding, empathy, and connection. Today’s story of recovery and hope from those who have overcome addiction describes the journey of Alicia, a single woman in her early thirties. Alicia has been in recovery since October 5, 2016. She has six sisters, two brothers and her parents were married for 50 years before her father passed away in 2015. She experienced a lot of adversity in her life, beginning with abuse suffered at the hands of a relative. This trauma affected her deeply, causing her to make many bad decisions, crippling her self-esteem. She struggled with substance use through her twenties, experiencing rehab, detox, recovery housing, and homeless shelters multiple times.
In her first significant period of recovery, she quit using, drinking, and smoking cigarettes. She ran her first half marathon, had her first back surgery, and started college all within one year. She successfully completed three years of college, but the old demons resurrected with catastrophic results. She fell back into her former lifestyle and dropped out of school. She went into detox twice and later was arrested. For some people, arrest is a wake-up call that life needs to change, but not for Alicia. This was yet another episode of misery and hopelessness causing her to fall farther into despair. She did not know how to cope.
Her father died while she was in prison. She was released and running on a warrant when she unexpectedly reconnected with her family. They decided to support her unconditionally while she served nine months for a probation violation, and her life began to change. She was the first client to be accepted and complete the Gilead House program in Kokomo. She ran two half-marathons. She connected with the Quick Response Team in Tippecanoe County, and is now working as Certified Recovery Specialist here in White County. She returned to college and recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology with a concentration in criminal justice. She was accepted to graduate school to earn a Master’s degree in social work, which has always been her dream.
Her life has changed! She loves serving her community and has a passion for serving nonviolent drug offenders caught in the grip of the criminal justice system, advocating for them when they are unable to speak for themselves. The QRT has served as a springboard for what she will be doing in the future, and for that she is truly grateful.
Alicia’s story illustrates the difficulties of overcoming trauma, the cycle of substance use, the importance of continuing to reach out for help, and never giving up. Her life demonstrates the power of recovery, offering hope for those still in that lifestyle. For Alicia, her family, running marathons, the support of the Gilead House, and her passion to help others made the difference. Overcoming substance use is battle that is not easily won, but with treatment and support, recovery is possible! Thanks, Alicia for allowing us to share your story. For help recovering from substance use, please call the QRT at 765-490-0381.
Lynn Saylor is the AmeriCorps member working with the United Against Opioid Abuse Initiative alongside the White County United Way. She is a major facilitator of the United Council on Opioids serving White County and a regular contributor to local media.