September is Recovery Month. All month long, we shared the stories of the amazing people involved in our recovery programs—as participants, families and as part of our team. These are real people sharing real stories: stories not only of of addiction, trauma, domestic violence, relapse, loss, fear, and hopelessness, but also hope, confidence, appreciation, excitement, acceptance, faith, and pride. They’re sharing their stories hoping to inspire those facing their own struggles. We hope you will join them, if it feels right, and share some of your experience with recovery.
If substances are affecting your ability to live the life you want, the Center for Human Development has experts on addiction who can help you make positive changes in your life. Take the first step by reading more about these programs or by calling 1-844-CHD-HELP to talk to a real person 24/7.
“Things have a way of snowballing out of control real quickly. Hospitalization for treatment often means loss of your job, housing, and relationships. Recovery means moving through it rather than being stuck in it. Whatever ‘it’ is, our team helps you to set your own goals and work toward achieving them. We help you develop your own inner wisdom so you can recognize that you are the expert who can recognize what’s going to help you achieve long-term recovery.”
– Andy Beresky, Center for Human Development’s Director of Recovery Supports and leader of a team of 15 Peer Recovery Specialists.
“I was living with my daughter and went on a 15-day bender,” says Noreen, left. “I am a blackout drunk, and my grandson asked me if we could play the same game as we did yesterday but I couldn’t even remember what it was. I prayed for help and was here the next day. To people my age, the stigma is gone. It’s ok to be an alcoholic, especially if you’re getting help. There are so many options. There’s so much help now.”
Two Rivers Recovery Center for Women in Greenfield is a residential facility where women spend up to six months receiving treatment for substance addiction. They all believe in each other and it shows.
“154. I have 154 contacts in my phone and all I think about these days is why I didn’t pick up the phone and call someone.” Lulu, right, relapsed when she stopped taking her depression medication. “I have a two-year old daughter, Alianna, and a boyfriend of 15 years who just proposed two weeks ago. When I got here, I was very emotional. I’ve never been away from her but I know I’m doing the best thing.”
“I’ve been here since the 4th of July,” says Kim, pictured in the middle. “The help is here, but it’s just whether you accept it. I was doing heroin and had enough of the run. My husband of 26 years needs me. My two daughters need me. My son needs me.”
“I cannot believe that I get the opportunity to help people with all of the hard things that I went through in addiction and recovery, that I can use that to possibly just be helpful to someone else.”
Clarice is a Recovery Coach at the Greenfield Center for Wellness. September is Recovery Month. All month long, we will be sharing the stories of the amazing people involved in our recovery programs—as participants, families and as part of our team. These are real people sharing real stories: stories not only of addiction, trauma, domestic violence, relapse, loss, fear, and hopelessness, but also hope, confidence, appreciation, excitement, acceptance, faith, and pride. They’re sharing their stories hoping to inspire those facing their own struggles. We hope you will join them, if it feels right, and share some of your experience with recovery.
We know at CHD that everyone’s path to recovery is unique and individual. Our coaches and peer specialists have lived experience that can offer guidance and support to those on their own path toward recovery.
Ali McCormick, left, is 52 and has three sons ages 22, 23 and 24. She will be sober for five months this week after spending half her life using crack cocaine or heroin. “It took me so long to get into a program because I was afraid of failure, but it’s my choice now,” says Ali. “I’m really proud of you, Ali,” says Toni Martin, also a resident at Two Rivers—and a friend. “I’m really proud of you too, Toni,” replies Ali.
“My husband, George, died a year after we were married,” Toni explains. “He took care of everything: worked, paid the bills, put gas in the car. His heart was made of gold, but it was small and had to pump so much it gave out. It left me empty and bankrupt. We used to listen to the Beatles all the time and sing their songs. There’s no shame in getting help.”
“If you’re dealing drugs and people are dying from what you’re selling, all the junkies want what you got because you got the good stuff. That’s the insanity of addiction.”
Jeffrey Bass just celebrated his 10-year anniversary of sobriety. He’s also a Certified Peer Specialist Supervisor for a team of seven CHD staff helping people to sobriety in Holyoke. “We treat people with a dual diagnosis. Along with substance abuse, depression is the big one. Boredom is the worst for an addict. People do drugs and alcohol just to feel better. But the underlying reasons why you’re using will be there in the morning. Recovery is a choice and there is no wrong door in.”
“Black raspberry!” Tabby calls out to another resident of Two Rivers Recovery Center, making her ice cream order for the Labor Day party.
Tabby began abusing substances amid the pain of her young daughter passing away. “I just started taking everything. I wound up in detox and then here at Two Rivers. I hated it at first, hated everyone. I’ve always been independent, and for the first 30 days you’re here, no phone and no car. My daughter Khalyah was staying with her father but DCF placed her in foster care. I met her foster parents and realized that she is in a great place now. Knowing that allowed me to accept that I need help. I could focus on me.”
After five months at Two Rivers, Tabby is sober and looking forward to reuniting with Khalyah soon. “I’ve been really excited about it but as it gets closer, I’m definitely getting nervous. She already has a unicorn helmet so I’m trying to buy her a unicorn bike too.”
“Life is for the living and I was killing myself. The way I lived as an addict and an alcoholic was hurtful to myself, my family, and others around me.I never wanted to be that, but I became it. They say you can’t do it alone, but I just wanted to be alone, you know? I was in court, headed to jail, and the judge looked at me and said, ‘Colleen, this is your last chance,’ and I believed him. I needed to be in jail because I knew I couldn’t do it in detox on my own. But now I finally feel like I’m on my path. I finally feel like I’m sailing it and not trying to go against the wind. Never give up. Keep trying.”
“I met my brother coming up the street down here on Pearl Street before I got into crack. He was the first one who showed me how to do crack. He put crack on top of a beer can then smoked it. That was the best high I ever had. It lasted 5-6 minutes but it was the best high I ever had. Crack had me so bad, when I went to my mama’s house, I stayed with her for a while. What I did to my mama, I stole her TV and sold it for $150 that she was still paying on it. I did bad things when I was doing crack. I almost got killed doing crack because um one guy almost jumped on me because sell my coke for $150 and he wanted to jump on me so I ran so I was scared and I walked down the dangerous part of Worthington Street where all the crack was and I was leaving the bar looking for crack and one guy and I was counting my money and the next thing I know it’s going out my hands the guy went by and grabbed it but I couldn’t run after the guy because I was too drunk.
“Outside of CHD, the most important man in my life is what I call ‘the Heavenly Father.’ That’s who I give my credit to, besides the people here. They keep me going. And sometimes when I sit and talk to him, I cry. I cry about people because there’s some people in this world that would hurt you for nothing, that you tryin’ to be honest with. That’s what I cry about. And some people are good people in this world and you gotta find ‘em. And I found ‘em here, that really care. And that’s it.”
On March 23rd, 2010, I began my journey into recovery, and it has changed my life in ways that I couldn’t have imagined. I don’t recall exactly when the shift happened, but I went from feeling less than, broken, shameful and full of fear, to knowing that I am enough, whole, proud and full of hope.
Recovery is not easy; it’s finding the willingness to be brave, honest, take suggestions, ask for help, and committing to doing the work, one day at a time, to maintain sobriety. The good news is A. You’ve survived 100% of the really hard things you’ve gone through; the odds are in your favor, and B. It’s how you discover that you are a miracle.
What I love the most about my job, is being reminded daily of the strength of human spirit, and seeing recovery in action. There is always hope, and recovery is possible; I could not do my job if I didn’t know this to be true.
Amy Weiswasser, LICSW, Clinician at CHD’s Outpatient Behavioral Health Services