Today I speak out to put a face with this disease because it can and will affect everyone.

A personal misconception about addiction led me to believe that it affects everyone but me. There is no desire to change with no willingness to overcome. When I look at a recovery misconception, there are no attempts to enter because it seems like confinement in a limited space beyond everyday living. My fears of addiction were getting drug charges, losing family, friends and a career which would leave me to question “how did I get here and when will it end?”

The isolation from friends and family created pain because I knew people needed me. My feelings were mixed once I decided to enter recovery because my mind told me I had to give up and lose out compared to what I would gain. There were the uncertain periods of thoughts that arose in my life which were confusing and therefore created doubt.

The best thing for me is living free of the shame and secrecy. Recovery awarded me the opportunity beyond my potential. When I reflect back once my use started, I had no idea of the effects on me because my mind could not conceive.

I have learned on this journey in recovery how important it is to stay committed which got me here and prepared me to accept without resenting what I don’t have control over. The proudest aspect of my journey in recovery is remaining abstinent from substances for the past 16 years. My story can help someone who may seem hopeless and doubt their ability of recovery because of their present situation. There is always the reminder of what it took to get here and give thought to what life would be with or without recovery. I am most grateful for restoration and humbleness.

My recovery has positively affected others in my life because of the care and concern for their wellness as well as mine. The values and strengths I have gained through finding recovery are, commitment, honesty, understanding others and their situations with a willingness to share my journey.

Stigmas affect me today in recovery because not enough education and awareness have reached people in our society to effect widespread change. In progressive stages of my addiction, stigma affected me through lack of engagement due to shame and fear. I am compelled to be a part of the recovery movement because of my success and service work for others who suffer.

Today I speak out to put a face with this disease because it can and will affect everyone. I have a change of mind.