My name is William and I am a person in long-term recovery. What that means is I haven’t had a mind or mood altering substance since November 15, 2006. I am glad to be a part of such an awesome movement of people in recovery, who are striving to shatter the stigma associated with addiction. When I first heard about this project through a fellow advocate in recovery, I immediately wanted to make this a reality for myself. No longer do I have to stay in the shadows about my disease and my recovery process. I can be one of many who have chosen to step out into the light and bring a FACE and VOICE to society.
My story, like many others, started at a young age experimenting with alcohol and “socially acceptable” drugs. I was raised in a two parent household where I received everything I needed growing up. One thing that was apparent early on in my teen years was that I always found myself doing things to fit in and eventually that led me to a pivotal point in my life that would ultimately change the very fabric of my existence. After graduating high school, I started doing everything and anything I could get my hands on. That would eventually lead me to multiple arrests, convictions and state prison bids.
I was introduced to meetings through probation, but never considered myself an addict. I could never grasp the undeniable truth that I indeed was an addict. Growing up in a small country town in south Jersey I was never exposed to what I thought society deemed an ‘addict.' The many misconceptions that addiction didn’t cross a certain social economic background were still relevant. Now, I understand that addiction not only crosses into the very thread of every part of society, but many times too often it is that very misconception that doesn’t allow people to get the help they so desperately need. They have no face or voice and often see recovery as trivial or not willing to accept the fact that, yes, indeed ‘I Am an Addict,’ because of the barriers that are placed by so many people.
Whether it is family or employers of friends, there is always that uneasy feeling about letting people know that we suffer from a disease that, if left untreated, will eventually be our demise. I have received so many gifts in recovery and the ones I cherish the most are the ones that money can’t buy. I have a close relationship to God and through that I’ve been able to have healthy relationships with my family and especially my 15 year old daughter who didn’t have her father growing up.
I am an active member in my recovery community and try to make recovery look attractive to people who have yet to experience the many miracles that I’ve experienced throughout my time in long-term recovery. I have the trust of family and friends back and I have built many long-term relationships throughout my process.
Although at times I still run into problems based on my past decisions I know I’m not that same individual, and more times than not, it has come in the way of being a convicted felon. At the end of my road I was facing yet another state prison sentence when the judge (who had sent me to prison in the past) turned and looked at me and gave me a second chance. I was given drug court and successfully completed the program.
Today my life is truly a life worth living. I now have a newborn daughter who I get to raise and embrace all that parenthood has to offer as a clean man. I’ve been able to secure gainful employment and have stopped being a burden on society. I have started to become more of an asset to the world around me. I have plans on going back to school and to start a new career in the addiction field. All of this is possible today and I no longer have to live in the SHADOWS. I can step out into the LIGHT. I am forever grateful.