"I am in long-term recovery, and what that means for me is I have not used drugs or alcohol since January 31st of 2009. And, because of that, I have gone from dealing dope to dealing hope."
I was abused emotionally, sexually and physically as a child. That abuse led to a struggle with mental health issues and anger, which led me to finding escape in drugs and violence. I dropped out of high school because it got in the way of my partying and turned 21 in prison. When I left prison, my lifestyle not only continued but became much worse. Over the next 15 years I would be homeless, in and out of jails, rehabs and the hospital multiple times. I would die more times than I can count on one hand and would lose more friends to addiction than I can count on my fingers and toes.
There were many turning points in my struggle to get sober. The major turning point was after I moved to Springfield in 2001 to get away from drugs and dealing; a drug deal had gone bad. I began college and was working at a local restaurant. During this time my dad committed suicide and for various reasons I broke up with the mother of my child. The pain and stress of these two events put me over the edge. I spiraled down into a full blown alcoholic. However, I worked with a Christian man and he and his wife loved me unconditionally even though I was an angry agnostic - they treated me like gold. I slowly started to go to church with them off and on, but I was still a hypocrite, hiding my alcoholism.
The final breaking point was when I pulled out of a bar late one night, very drunk. This was six months of still doubting God. I saw a cop pull out after me. I knew if I got a DUI I would be pulled out of my practicum and would not be able to finish my master's degree. So I said, "Okay, God, if you are real, make the cop go away and I will go to church every Sunday. " The cop continued to follow me. So then I said, "Okay, God, if you make him go away I will stop drinking for good." Every time I turned a corner I added something to my "list" of what I would stop doing. By the last turn into my driveway, I told God if he showed himself I would quit smoking, drinking, having premarital sex, fighting and cussing. On my last turn the cop drove off.
I passed out in my car and woke up the next day and remembered everything from the night before, which was rare. But the I heard that voice, 'You aren't gonna do this so don't even try.' So I showered and I was off to the big super bowl party to drink. On the drive to the party, I was flipping through radio stations and the radio came to dead spot. Then suddenly a Christian song came on, and the first words out of speaker were, "I wish you could see me know, I wish I could show you how, I 'm not who I was ." I immediately started balling my eyes out, and heard a voice I never had. God said, "You can do this." I had to pull over I was crying so hard, and I haven't drank, done drugs or smoked since that moment.
Today I have four college degrees. I am a counselor who specializes in co-occurring disorders, working with the Greene County Drug Court program through Preferred Family Healthcare. I sit on multiple boards and coalitions. I have the great fortune to speak across the state in training sessions, groups, churches, schools, communities and conferences.
In 2012, I started a nonprofit called Better Life in Recovery (BLiR). Our mission is to deal hope and foster dignity in those who struggle with substance use and mental health issues through community service, education and awareness events that celebrate people in long-term recovery. In 2012 we held one event. This year we are on pace to hold over 100 events and donate over 5,000 hours of community service to the communities we live in. That is what people in recovery do!
Thanks to finding hope, faith in something other than myself (God) and becoming a vital part of my community I have been able to change my life and work with hundreds of others to give them support and encouragement as they changed their own lives. Today I have an amazing family, a career, and a passion for living each day not only to make myself better but to improve the lives of those around me. I have found a better life in recovery, and I live to share the power of recovery with others!
In 2016, David was voted in as the vice chair of the state advisory council on alcohol and drug abuse and Better Life In Recovery opened Springfield's first recovery community center under. The center will offer fun, fellowship, and resources. The center will also be offering classes on life skills, employment, exercise, nutrition, meditation, as well as faith based recovery support groups and smart recovery.
(For more information on Better Life in Recovery: www.betterlifeinrecovery.com )