In 1990, I became addicted to crack cocaine. Living in my childhood neighborhood in south Chicago, I worked at the University of Illinois Hospital as a medical collector and had a good life with a promising future. I lived in that community most of my life attending St. Edmund Elementary, and Hale Franciscan High School. I never aspired to become an addict — nobody does — but I did. I saw no way out and it was years before I hit bottom and got help. I spent three years in active addiction, and four years in recovery then relapsed. In 2000, I finally got my life together with self-will and the help of others.
To get clean and stay clean was not enough for me. I had minimal income, legal problems, and no direction. I decided to go back to school because that was where I was headed after graduating from high school. I attended Columbia College in Columbia, MO. After two years and an Associate Degree, I decided to attend the University of Missouri and obtain my Bachelors in Social Work (BSW). I worked on myself mentally, physically, and spiritually every day, and received my BSW. During that time, I created a Narcotics Anonymous meeting that has grown into one of the largest in the Columbia area.
A BSW was again not enough; I applied to graduate school to obtain my Masters in Social Work (MSW). I am proud to say I have graduated with my third (Associates, Bachelors, Masters) degree on May 12, 2006. I am just as proud that I have seven years of sobriety on April 1, 2007. Achieving sobriety is only the beginning. If a recovering addict is not able to achieve self sufficiency then he or she can become depressed and feel useless. As we know, recovering addicts have to build a foundation, or they become vulnerable to active addiction. The sky is the limit. I am helping others. I moved from victim to victorious!
I want MRN viewers to know that “if I can do it others can too.” There is hope and healing in recovery. We have to help each other. When I aid others, I help myself.