Recovering in Suffield

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Growing up in Suffield was a typical small town experience. As teenagers we did the normal things that those before us did, whether it was a party in the woods or in the basement of someone’s house. We didn’t get hurt and we weren’t hurting anyone. Back then it was mostly alcohol with some marijuana being used occasionally. Somewhere along the way I found myself caught in an impossible downward spiral of addiction. I had the perfect excuse, after all I had gone through ten abdominal surgeries. I’m in pain and these are prescribed medications. What’s the problem? The word is progression. I progressed from alcohol to pills and eventually all the way to heroin. December 29th 2015, I finally made the choice to begin to come back to life. When my journey into recovery started, I was so fresh and fully committed to staying clean. The biggest obstacle I had was that I didn’t have a clue as to how I was going to do it.

Throughout my recovery one constant remained, the Town of Suffield. The landscape was mostly the same but there was something very different in our small town. Suffield was not facing an ever growing problem with substance abuse as many other surrounding towns were. This isn’t a subject that people like to talk about. It’s not fun. It’s not comfortable. The sad truth, however, is that it’s here and it isn’t going away. Kids today have to grow up faster than we did, they have more pressure and expectations than we did, and unfortunately they have many more substances to avoid along the way. When you add in the fact that today’s generation is completely fearless it makes for a very scary and real problem in our town.

Recovery is strange at times. I went into recovery thinking that I just wanted and needed to stay clean. So many things have happened in the past two years. About eighteen months in, I took a job at Dunkin Donuts inside a gas station in Enfield. The owner knew of my past and was still willing to give me a chance. If you told me that I would find my voice inside of that Dunkin, well let’s just say, I wouldn’t have bet on it. They put me in the drive thru and something just hit me square in the face, the interaction with the public, with something as simple as taking an order for coffee, gave me a rush that I hadn’t felt in a very long time. You see, what they don’t tell you in books is that addiction robs you of everything, especially your personality. Now I feel like I’m back and I need to try and do something for the sick and suffering that don’t know how much there is on the other side of addiction. It seems that all we ever hear about is “rock bottom” or death. I am living proof that you can get on the other side of this disease. My catch phrase at Dunkin from day one has been “I will see you when you get here”. That’s what I would say to anyone with this disease of addiction as well. Just decide to live again. Take that first step and most importantly don’t be afraid to ask for help.

I have shared my story all over the state. Whether at a local public forum or speaking to inmates at a prison, my story has progressed as well. I used to focus mostly on my period of active addiction. Now, I tend to focus on what my life has become in recovery. Earlier I mentioned the kids of Suffield and what they go through. The single most important audience that I have had the honor to speak to has been the kids in the high school. These have been some of the best conversations that I have had since being in recovery. These kids are smart. They are talented. They are curious. Most importantly they are vulnerable. Don’t be afraid to talk to them about things that aren’t fun or may be uncomfortable. I promise you, they will surprise you and you will be amazed at what you can learn from them. I know I was.

When I was asked to write this article I struggled with what I should say. I was recently at a meeting in town and someone asked me “how should we act around a person who is in recovery or still in active addiction?” I don’t know if I really answered him that night so I decided I will do so to end this article. The person in recovery can’t change the things that they have done in the past and it takes time to become a better person. That being said, at the end of the day I’m not just an addict or a person in recovery. I’m a dad, a brother, a son and most importantly a human being.

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