"I attempted to start fresh and make new friends; however, after some individuals learned that I was in recovery, I was quickly ostracized."

My journey in recovery started when I was nineteen years old. As a young university student, I was intimidated to reveal I was in recovery. Today, by and through the mentorship, compassion, and acceptance of my recovery community, I am empowered and confident in my life as a recovering person.

A great deal of my battle with the disease of addiction stemmed from the environment I grew up in. Although I was raised in an affluent household, relative to the community, my environment did not allow for the open expression of feelings. This condition was a direct cause as to why I hid and sequestered my feelings, ultimately giving rise to unhealthy coping skills. I became socially incapacitated, and these harmful coping skills quickly evolved into abusing all different types of drugs with the people that I associated with. By the age of seventeen, I found myself partial to depressant drugs, particularly opioids. It was during this time while attending community college after circumventing my senior year of high school that I overdosed on heroin. I was able to hide my overdose from my family and portrayed to them that I was prepared to leave home and study at university. I swore to myself that I would not touch opioids again.

After leaving for university, I left behind what little support I had from where I grew up. I attempted to start fresh and make new friends; however, after some individuals learned that I was in recovery, I was quickly ostracized. I struggled to fit in everywhere I went, and I found myself drinking copious amounts of alcohol again. I relapsed and, shortly after, joined a fraternity where open substance use was accepted, normalized, and promoted. Notwithstanding this newly joined brotherhood, I found myself utterly alone in a new place lacking strong and positive support. I quickly found myself using opioids again due to the combination of isolation and low self-esteem.

It was not until a life-changing event that I was introduced to healing and recovery. My recovery community accepted me for who I was and mentored me to be open and honest. In other words, I learned what it meant to be true to myself, which thereby allowed me to create meaningful, fulfilling relationships. My peers taught me what it meant to be human, to feel, as well as what it meant to be a community member. The lessons I learned are why I’m sharing my story.

This is why I am sharing my story. Now, today, I work in recovery and reflect the same compassion shown to me onto everyone I come in contact with. Personally, my peers saved my life and provided me the opportunity to enjoy what I have now. I attribute my success to those who huddled around me when I was too down to uplift myself from the dark places where I was. Truly, I may not be here today if it were not for those people who listened to me with an open mind.

My name is Jonathan, and I am a grateful person in recovery; I am someone you know.

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