This week instead of spending my forty hours with a corporation, I am spending it with others in recovery, learning how to serve within our community. I have one more week in training as a Peer Recovery Support Specialist. This is a step towards state certification in this ever-growing and much needed field. But one doesn’t need certification to volunteer and be of great service.
The class is made up of twelve participants in their twenties to thirties, except me and one other who is in his early forties. I am old enough to be their mother but I’m being schooled in the world of addiction like a little sister. There are those who used opiates such as heroin and prescriptions and others who used whatever they could get their hands on. They have been incarcerated, in intensive outpatient programs and lived in sober houses. They have all lost everything they had and are building new lives in recovery. One day at a time.
I do not say re-building because this suggests going back to old places and practices. In recovery, we build anew because the old way was not healthy. There is mending and sifting through the rubble to retrieve bits of our self that may still serve us well but mostly it’s all new. Recovery may be a bit like occupational therapy – learning to live in a new form and how to operate it safely, productively and unaltered by our substance of choice. It has been said that when one begins to use addictively, emotional development is hindered, even stopped.[i] So a thirty-eight-year-old who began using addictively at fifteen is emotionally a fifteen-year-old. There is a lot of catching up to be done, a lot of learning, a lot of work. Faced with this task can feel overwhelming and is a big bump in the recovery path. Not everyone navigates it without help from the old go-to substance. But it doesn’t mean they can’t get back on the road; it may mean they and their support team need to rework their plan. It can be done.
Although I am learning skills and adding to my resources I have found this exercise to be much more enlightening personally than I expected. As I listen to the other participants I am learning not only about services which are in place in our local community but also about areas needing attention. I am learning how little I know about the world of addiction and more importantly, the world of recovery. There are many roads and many hands outstretched, yet we still need more who are willing to support. And I am learning the many areas in which I may best serve. Recovery doesn’t stop – it’s an ongoing process, a daily practice. As we mature and grow, the support we require changes also. This means we need people in all phases of recovery, at all stages of life to help along the way.
If you are a person in recovery, no matter where you are on your journey there is someone who will benefit from having you at their side. And you will benefit from being there as well.