Guest blog submitted by: Constance Ray
“Although substance use disorder has touched many parts of my life, my disease does
not define me. I am a husband, married for 23 years, a dad to a teenage girl. I am also
a son and a brother, a business owner, employee, an artist and a taxpaying voter.”
– David Cote, Recovery Survivor
Substance abuse doesn’t pick favorites, and addiction knows no bounds. It doesn’t care if you’re white, black, male, female, rich or poor. Addiction can grab anyone, anywhere.
Consider the chipper investment banker or the perky soccer mom with two children. Neither fit the stereotype of an addict, but plenty of people living those same lives also live under the cloud of addiction. There are millions of people who say, “That will never be me,” but life has a way of throwing us curveballs.
But no matter who we are, if addiction wraps its icy grip around our lives, there is hope for a better future. Rickey and Bev are just two such examples.
Rickey spent 14 years as a youth pastor. Married with children, Rickey was living a normal life. A series of surgeries left Rickey regularly using prescription medication. At first, the pills helped, but after awhile, he found himself needing more and more.
Rickey’s doctor would only prescribe so many doses, so he started doctor shopping and visiting pain clinics. When those wells ran dry, Rickey began asking friends for medication. Gradually, he started lying and stealing, and his personality changed. When he looked in the mirror, he didn’t recognize himself. The stealing escalated, and Rickey found himself in jail for a year, giving him plenty of time to think. It didn’t take long to realize he had lost the real Rickey.
Luckily, he was furloughed into a rehabilitation facility, and from that point on, life took a turn.
“I’ll never forget the night that I went to [rehab] … I’ll never forget how I felt. I had an open mind and an open heart. I knew I had to give it 100 percent — and I was ready for it. I was ready for my life to change, and I was ready to get my life back to the freedom I once had,” Rickey said.
He threw himself into recovery and reclaimed his life. Twelve years sober, Rickey has returned to work in the church and repaired relationships with his family. And while it’s almost like it never happened, the memories and the experience will always be there.
Asked what keeps him going, Rickey said, “I’ve always heard, ‘Once an addict, always an addict.’ It’s just not true. I no longer have a desire for drugs. I get better enjoyment out of life: I laugh, I’m thankful, I found out who I am in Christ. I learned how to help others; instead of being judgmental, now I know why they can’t quit.”
A Christian, stay-at-home mother of four, Bev never expected to find herself addicted to drugs.
Gastric bypass surgery, in addition to several other surgeries, left Bev in pain and needing prescription medication. Her doctors continued to prescribe large amounts of heavy narcotics, which left Bev using more and more. Once her doctor was arrested and no longer able to prescribe, Bev was scrambling to feed her addiction. She found herself buying pills on the street and spending thousands of dollars each week to feed her habit.
“Every time I went to the ATM for money to buy the pills, I would tell myself, ‘I’m not doing this tomorrow; I’m not taking 10 pills tomorrow.’ I would try to figure out how I was going to pay for my daughters’ cheerleading and still get my pills,” Bev recalled.
Desperate and ashamed, Bev finally turned to her husband and told him everything. It was the first step in her journey toward healing. A few days later, she checked into a recovery facility.
Two years later, Bev is sober, rebuilding relationships, and has reclaimed her life.
“Before I got treatment, I was a mom first and a wife. I didn’t know who I was or where my identity had gone. But, when I went to [rehabilitation], I was Bev. I was able to focus on me and who I was and who I wanted to become,” she said.
These heartfelt stories show that you can never tell who will be touched by addiction; it has a way of sneaking into anyone’s life. On the flipside, it also shows that if anyone can be touched by addiction, anyone can beat addiction. If Rickey or Bev’s stories strike a chord with you, remember how they ended — they won their battles, and so can you.