My name is Adam Sledd, and I am a person in long-term recovery. What that means for me is that I have not used a mind-altering substance since 2011. As a direct result of this, I live a full, meaningful and rewarding life. I am happy to go public with my recovery story and add my voice to the growing number of people who are willing to speak out. It is important to me to empower people to reach, achieve, and maintain recovery and doing so empowers me as well.
I was actively addicted for 27 years, and it took me about 6 months of treatment to finally stay in recovery. I was lucky enough to get the chance to participate in a recovery court program that provided structure and support. My son was a toddler, and I was determined to be a good father. The idea of losing my son to my addiction was simply unacceptable to me. The first year was the hardest. My schedule was demanding, but I held on to hope. After about a year, things got a little easier. I got my driver’s license back. I began taking classes to become an addiction counselor. I regained some confidence and a sense of achievement. After two years, I completed my probation and began working in a treatment facility. At three years, I am beginning my counseling supervision and working with clients in the same program I graduated from. My son is healthy, happy, and has two parents. Life is good and I feel free. I would not trade this life for anything. I am not yet where I want to be, but I am well on my way.
For me, the biggest misconception about recovery was that I had to go through life as a person who was labelled as sick, broken, special or fragile; who was an outcast from mainstream society, relegated to hanging out in church basements and speaking only in a coded language with other people like myself. I sometimes do hang out in church basements, but my recovery is so much more than that. Recovery for me is about returning to the person that I was always encouraged to be; the life that I began to live 30 years ago.
Recovery is not a consolation prize, an approximation or a microcosm of life, it is about rejoining the human race as a full participant and contender for life’s biggest prizes. Why should we settle for anything less? My world had been very small when I was getting high, and in early recovery, I was always a little skeptical of the dogma I was hearing, and I held onto hope that there was more to recovery than what I was being shown. Eventually, I found people like myself and learned about the new recovery advocacy movement, and my whole paradigm shifted. All at once my suspicions, as well as my hopes, were affirmed. I was empowered, and my recovery is stronger because of it. Today I advocate publicly for recovery whenever and wherever I can; the internet, the sidewalk, the church basement, the grocery store, my office, and the voting booth.
The new recovery advocacy movement is so attractive to me, and I think that it is to others as well. When the dogma and stigma are removed, and the love, hope and success are highlighted instead of the suffering, drama and tragedy, recovery is a beautiful and inspiring thing. For me, that is what it’s all about. What if recovery was so well-understood and attractive that everybody wanted what we have? What if people who never suffered from addiction or trauma or abuse or mental illness saw what we are doing and said, “Hey, that is a really cool way to live, I want some of that!” One thing is certain, that cannot happen with anonymity.
My name is Adam Sledd and I am not anonymous.