From my personal and professional experience, I believe addiction is a family disease and affects the everyone in the addict’s orbit. Without family involvement and healing, the addict stands little chance of recovering. I do not look at the addict or person struggling with mental health issues as the identified patient, but rather I see the entire family system becomes the client. It is important that the family gain education to better understand where they are hurting rather than helping their loved one.
I truly believe I have been given the opportunity to live two lives in one lifetime. I entered my own recovery process when I was 16 years old, feeling broken, defeated and alone. At the time, I thought my life was over. I did not think I would ever laugh again or be able to make real friends. I had no idea how wrong I was! My addiction had taken me to a place where I was depressed, and I saw no way out. I did not think I would be capable of creating a life worth living. I knew at that time that I had two options; continue using substances to avoid my feelings or to seek help. I made a commitment to myself that I would try recovery and attending a 12-step program for one year. After that year, I would reassess where my life was.
When I had three years clean and sober, I was struggling with other issues and realized I needed more support. So, I decided to enter a residential treatment program. It was that humility, surrender and decision that truly began my positive life journey. I remember when I was new to recovery, someone asked me to write down what I wanted my life to look like in five years. In retrospect, I completely sold myself short on what I would be able to achieve. I have gained so much more from recovery than I thought I would. I often share this experience with the clients I support because it is possible to come from the darkest days of hopelessness into a beautiful life that I never dreamed possible.
In 2011, I began working in the mental health industry. This was an exciting and also sad year for me. I was launching a new career, yet also attending funerals for 11 of my friends who had relapsed. Losing them ignited a fire and a passion in me to do everything I could to help those who are struggling with addiction and mental health issues. My career started with me working as an overnight Program Aide at a residential facility for adolescents. I quickly worked my way to the position of Recovery Mentor, and eventually became a Counselor. During the eight years I was employed by that facility, I worked with hundreds of teens who were incredibly resistant, depressed, and had little to no life coping skills. One of the most rewarding aspects of this position, was seeing the light come back into the clients’ eyes and watching them belly laugh for the first time in years!
Eight years later, a close family member of mine was arrested, went to treatment and then relapsed leaving him homeless. This situation gave me a new sense of understanding for the families that I worked with, and I also began to attend Al-anon meetings. Not only do I understand recovery for myself, but I also now understand the importance of maintaining boundaries and self-care. I aspire to be an example of hope for both the addict who is suffering, as well as the family or friend who loves them.
The Brass Tacks Recovery model is rooted in love and commitment. We utilize professional outside of the box skills that truly help clients and families achieve long term healing and growth. Being able to work with Brass Tacks Recovery is an honor. We care about those we support and each other as a team. As the saying goes, “if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.” Brass Tacks has made that possible for me.