There is hope; I and the other 23 million people living in long term recovery are the hope.

My name is, Chris Titmas, and I am a young person in long term recovery which to me means that I haven’t used a drink or a drug in over three years.  I grew up in New Jersey in a loving family with both parents.  I may not have had everything I wanted, but I had everything I needed.  Both of my parents worked, but were still very much involved in my life.  My dad coached my football and baseball teams, my mother never missed an important game.  When I got more into music in junior high school my parents were at every play and concert.  I can honestly remember back to all the times my parents would warn me about drugs, telling me that our family has “addiction” and “addictive personalities” in our genes.

I started using drugs when I was 13.  I would steal alcohol from my parents to binge drink.  When I got to high school I would smoke pot.  At first, it was here and there, then only on the weekends, and then it became every day.  Nothing out of the norm because to me it seemed that everyone else was also doing it.  The only difference between me and everyone else was that they knew how to stop and I didn’t.

By the time I got to college my active addiction was in full force.  I had lost all of my friends who didn’t do drugs. The friends who I would smoke pot with didn’t want to be around me because I was either high on coke, oxycodone, or both.  Whenever I would see my parents we would fight.  They didn’t know what to do with me, I hated being alive.

When I first went to treatment I went away for 28 days.  I came home and everyone acted as if nothing ever happened.  I went back to school and lived with my friends.  Shortly after, I was dragged back down into the grips and using again, but now even heavier.  There were no school resources available to someone with substance use disorder which is why after my second go at rehab I chose to live home, and commute to school.

I had finally entered into recovery at the age of 21, and during my junior year of college.  Since entering into recovery, I have graduated with a BS in business administration, started a career, moved into my own apartment with my beautiful girlfriend, and we have a dog.  Since being in recovery, I have become a better son, brother, grandchild, nephew, and boyfriend.  However, it has not always been easy.

The stigma put on people with substance abuse disorders is terrifying which is why I advocate for substance use disorder.  The stigma must be broken.  People with substance use disorder don’t only live under bridges and beg for change, we are blue and white collar workers, sons and daughters, students, teachers, mothers and fathers.  We are not a “waste of life.”  We can change and enter recovery.  There is hope; I and the other 23 million people living in long term recovery are the hope.  I am not anonymous, my name is Chris Titmas and I am a person in recovery.