Every September, we observe National Recovery Month. Hosted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Recovery Month aims to increase awareness and understanding of mental health and substance use disorders, while promoting professional services that help people in need.
To wrap up National Recovery Month, we’re sharing another recovery story from Spectrum client Casey Carrozza. Casey continues to utilize Spectrum’s outpatient addiction treatment services and has made impressive strides while working with her peer recovery coach, Joe. Read on for Casey’s inspiring story.
A Decade of Turbulence
I started getting high when I was about 20 years old. By the time I hit 22, things really began to escalate and I started using heroin. In the following years, I also used a lot of benzodiazepines like Xanax and Klonopin, and cocaine. As you can imagine, things rapidly got as bad as they could be, but nothing compared to the last two years before my recovery.
Throughout the ten years of my substance use, I had gone into rehab probably 13 or 14 times. Towards the end of this time period, I began going to Spectrum Health Systems for detox. Actually, the last six times I was in detox it was at Spectrum—it was kind of my go-to place. If I were to make a call to try to start recovery, it would always be to Spectrum. Of the different places I had been for detox, I liked Spectrum’s protocol and staff best. I liked that many staff members are in recovery themselves, so I almost always knew who I would see when I went in, and I never felt judged.
About five years before my sobriety began, I had been arrested six or seven times. Never for possession, but for some of the chaos that surrounds unhealthy relationships. As part of pre-trial probation for one of these arrests, I was required to take a drug test and I didn’t want to fail, which is how I was introduced to methadone. I found that with methadone, my heroin usage drastically declined. I had tried Suboxone for a really long time, but it didn’t work for me. What I think is great about methadone is that you can’t decide not to take it and then go home and sell it (it’s a long process to get take-homes). There’s an accountability that comes along with methadone – you have to drink it in person in front of a clinician and then you can go about your day.
Eventually, I came back home from Spectrum after about two or three days and began using some of the many outpatient programs Spectrum offers, like outpatient groups and counseling. This is how I found Joe, my peer recovery coach.
Outpatient Treatment – Different Strokes for Different Folks
In the past, I never would have done peer recovery. When Joe first approached me at the clinic, I just wanted to leave and didn’t have any interest in speaking with him. I don’t think I really understood what it was, but I also don’t think I would have known about the program if he hadn’t personally reached out to me. He handed me his business card and it took me a little while to call him, but I’m so happy I did.
Different outpatient services work differently for individuals, and everyone finds a preference. I was going to group therapy every week for about five years and still sometimes go. I like to be able to go and feel good and feel like I can help the other group members by showing them that going through detox and treatment is not that bad.
I’ve been working with Joe since July 2018, and he’s been incredibly helpful in my recovery journey. When we first started working together, I have to admit, I wasn’t excited about it at all. But the more we worked together, the more I realized how much he was able to help me with.
What I found to be true for myself and for many others is that once you get on the path to sobriety, you think, “Well, now what?” It’s almost like you’re at Point A and you need to get to Point C, but you don’t know how to do it. For me, Joe and the Spectrum Peer Recovery Program are Point B. Joe doesn’t do anything for me, he shows me how to do things myself so that in the future, I can do them on my own.
The versatility of the Peer Recovery Program is amazing. Everyone is in a different place once committing to sobriety post-detox. Some people just need help getting out the door in the morning, and others need help with doctors’ appointments or job interview prep. Having someone from the outside who believes in you so much and wants to see you well makes a huge difference. It’s helped my confidence, because he sees firsthand what I can do, and I feel that this support helps me in a lot of different ways and scenarios. He’s been helping me find a psychiatrist, as I’ve learned that mental health is a major component of substance-use disorder recovery.
I really think one of the things that sets Spectrum apart is how many staff members working in both inpatient and outpatient are in recovery themselves. It is amazing and encouraging; it’s the most down to earth place. But the best thing Spectrum has provided me with has been Joe and the Peer Recovery Program. I tell everyone I see around the clinic about the program.
I’m very happy with the progress I’ve made through medication-assisted treatment (MAT), but I do hate the stigma that surrounds it. I don’t personally care what people think about my medical use of methadone, but it’s frustrating that the perception and stigma surrounding this treatment could cost me and others like me job opportunities. I hope that more resources for treatment emerge as further research is done in this field and the public comes to terms with the many elements of substance-use disorders. I do encourage anyone interested in making a change in their lives to reach out and determine what path to recovery suits him or her best.
If you or someone you love is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, call us today at 1-877-MyRehab and we can help you on the path to recovery. Our continuum of care allows us to identify the right course for you. For more information, visit https://www.spectrumhealthsystems.org/.