It’s been said that recovery from addiction is a journey, not a destination. Tammy Walker’s journey of recovery has been ongoing since July of 2014. Having been diagnosed many years ago with bipolar disorder, Tammy took prescription lithium. She abused alcohol, however, and her drinking conflicted badly with lithium. Antisocial behavior and some poor choices resulted in her being arrested several times. Three arrests were for drunk driving, and after her third DWI conviction she went to jail for two years. She says it took her first year behind bars to really see what addiction had done to her.
While still incarcerated, Tammy was contacted by DRA (Dual Recovery Anonymous) about starting treatment for recovery. Beginning July 2014, within days of being released, she began her journey at CHD. “At first I was apprehensive,” Tammy recalls, “but Jessica from CHD picked me up at my house and took me to DRA peer group. Right away I knew I could relate to her. By the end of the night I thought, wow, I can do this! I really felt good and wasn’t so nervous. Recovery can have its ups and downs, but you get up and you keep going.”
Not everyone appreciates that addiction is a disease. It is a primary, chronic disease affecting areas of the brain that regulate reward, motivation and memory. Individuals struggling with addiction experience biological, psychological, social and spiritual struggles. Often people with addictions lose jobs, important relationships, and things that really matter to them because the addiction has such a powerful hold on their lives.
Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death. CHD is at the forefront of addictions treatment, with clinics licensed by the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services (BSAS) to provide therapy and addiction services for individuals struggling with a primary diagnosis of a substance use disorder or a problem gambling addiction.
A fundamental component of recovery is individual support that gives the person in recovery hope and incentive. Currently, Tammy works with Michael White, Addictions Specialist for CHD. Michael assists people in identifying whether they believe they suffer from substance abuse and the signs and symptoms they present that indicate they are. He helps people who are currently sober identify indicators specific to them that may indicate they are on the path to relapse. He connects people who have a need with CHD programs and intensive outpatient groups. If they need detox he can facilitate that as well. That Dual Recovery Anonymous group that Tammy mentioned? Michael runs that.
“I provide Tammy with as much support as I can,” Michael says, “and she’s doing well. It’s Tammy putting in the work to get this done.”
Tammy has so many good things to say about Michael, you could fill a whole newspaper. Let me share just three:
- Michael can always be counted on to show respect and not be judgmental.
- When Michael says he is going to do something you can best believe that his word is a good as gold.
- Michael’s support helps me have a positive attitude and outlook and goals.
Ask Tammy and she will tell you she is a different person for coming to CHD. “I should have done this 30 years ago,” she says, “but better late than never.”
I think it is worth pointing out that Tammy Walker wanted to have her story told, using her real name. Why? She thought that by telling her story to as many people as will listen that maybe she can help somebody else who needs to get started in recovery from addiction.
September is National Recovery Month. All month there are programs, events and awards that acknowledge the challenges that people with an addiction work so hard to overcome and the victories they are achieving. But nothing explains the journey of recovery better than a personal story. I hope the story of Tammy’s life-changing progress provides incentive for you to make a generous donation to CHD so, as Tammy said, we can help somebody else. Thank you.