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Voices For Recovery
Personal Stories of People in Recovery

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During recovery month, we highlight the incredible journey of individuals from all walks of life who have found recovery.  They are a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and show that treatment is effective and people do recover.  We hope these stories encourage others to seek help  - and to know that recovery is always possible.

Living My Life My Way

When I was younger I remember feeling anxious and a bit off kilter, like I was living in my own world. My anxiety worsened as I entered adulthood and substance use became my way to relax. It started with marijuana and alcohol, which eventually lead to methamphetamine use in my thirties. I never used substances to ‘’get high” or drunk. I wanted to relax and ease my anxiety, which eventually led to my dependence on alcohol in my forties.

I called myself a “maintenance alcoholic.” I was able to maintain jobs and family life, but needed alcohol to function. I was drinking all day, every day and would experience withdrawal symptoms if I did not. No one around me suspected my drinking, not even my employers. I felt like I was living in my own prison, but I was able to convince myself that I was holding everything together. I suspect that there are many others who live day to day like this.

In November 2016, I felt that I needed to take control of my life and asked for help from my primary care doctor, who referred me to counseling/psychiatric services at my clinic. At that time I spoke with family members who came into town to support me, and I began taking medication for my anxiety and alcohol abuse (medicated assisted treatment).

Today I am over seven months sober and I am enjoying a life that no longer revolves around alcohol. I feel that I am now free to live life the way I’d like to and not around the bottle.

For those who can relate to my story, I’d like you to know that although we are able to “function” on a daily basis, self-medicating anxiety is not the answer, and treatment is available.

- Amy

Dedicated to My Recovery

I am a woman in long term recovery. In 2008, I was laid off from my job of twelve years. In 2010, due to some bad choices I made, I lost everything. In 2013 I was arrested, convicted and served one year in San Mateo County jail. On February 14, 2014, I was released with no home to go to.

I registered with San Mateo County Probation’s Adult and Realignment Services and then was referred to Service Connect of San Mateo County, which provides a range of services and resources to individuals who have served sentences for specific low-level offenses.

Since then I have attended Twelve Step meetings regularly and graduated from two outpatient programs – Star Vista’s Women’s Enrichment Center and El Centro de Libertad, both in San Mateo County. During this time, I lived in a shelter and a sober living environment. In April 2016, I was introduced to Voices of Recovery San Mateo County through Service Connect and was offered a position as a recovery coach.

Today I am four and a half years clean and sober, and working as a peer to peer advocate for those who are seeking long term recovery.

In 2015 I was also awarded a scholarship for a voucher with San Mateo County Housing and am now residing in my own one bedroom apartment in Redwood City.

I am not only a hard worker, but very dedicated in my recovery. 

- Janice

I am a Free Man Now

I started doing drugs at around 15 years old. Before that I never suffered from any mental health issues, but I had a genetic schizophrenia gene that was dormant and sprawled out into development once I touched marijuana.  At 15, I experienced my first episode and was hospitalized for the first time.  I was diagnosed shortly after and began going to youth therapy.  However, I continued on a destructive path and did not comply with medications.  At 18, I transferred to the Central County Mental Health Center for adult services and though my parents wanted me to get help, I was still unmotivated.

I continued to party and engage in reckless behavior until I got in trouble with the law at age 23 -  on my birthday no less!  After this incident, my transformation began. I was accepted into the Pathways program for rehab and received three years of probation. Pathways provides an alternate path through the criminal justice system for people with a mental illness. They worked closely with the Central County clinic to help me turn my life around. I completed six months of rigorous rehabilitation and then went right into work for another six months. I made the decision that I wanted to go to school, and the whole team supported me. 

I put my full effort into college and began a path of continual success, earning A’s and B’s, and even a Leadership Award from Pathways Probation. I have since received two scholarships and made the Dean’s List for five consecutive semesters. All the while I’ve been volunteering at health forums and telling my story to advocate for mental health services. Soon I will graduate, transfer to a State University and begin a new life. I have plans to get my masters in Accountancy at UC Davis.

I recently graduated from Pathways, four years clean and sober. The judge even called me a “star.” I’ve also been complying with all my psychiatric medications.

These days my recovery comes first. I’ve been through a journey that has not only constructed a path to success, but has also given me a chance to live a clean, comfortable life.  I will always support and recommend the programs that help me continue a fruitful path in recovery.

I am a free man now, a free spirit and a real survivor.

- Jose

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