Strong Recovery – Patient Story
Josh describes his story as “typical.”
“My parents divorced, and we lost our house,” he says. “So my mom, my sister and I moved into a rough apartment complex. The moms all went to work. And we were left on our own the whole day.”
Josh started experimenting with alcohol, marijuana and tobacco at an early age. His mother’s strictness was the only thing that kept him from getting in too deep.
“She would pull me back when I was getting really bad,” he recalls.
When Josh went off to college, he partied heavily—and graduated to cocaine. In his mid-20s, Josh was diagnosed with a chronic medical condition. His doctors prescribed opiates to help manage the pain.
“They were so liberal with the pain killers back then,” Josh recalls. “That set the stage for further substance abuse.”
While Josh got his other health issues under control, he almost immediately began abusing opiates. That, in turn, brought on new health and life issues. Soon, Josh started using heroin and crack cocaine.
“I was going nowhere,” he says. “I started getting into trouble. And I was hurting everyone around me—mostly my family.”
Now 30 years of age, and in danger of losing his job, Josh came to Strong Recovery. That’s where he met Charles Brown.
“Charles is my counselor—and my hero,” says Josh. “If I could have lunch with anyone in the world, it’s Charles Brown every time.”
Josh’s first year and a half in the program was challenging. He was put on suboxone, a medication that blocks the effects of opiates and other addictive drugs. Still, he had multiple relapses.
“I almost got booted out,” he says. “But they supported me when I hit the rough spots. Then, things finally clicked.”
With the support of Charles and the other doctors, counselors and administrators at Strong Recovery, Josh began making progress. He was able to keep his job. And he started to see a future that he had never imagined before.
“I want to pay it forward,” says Josh. “So I just recently got into a graduate program in social work. None of this would have been possible without my family, my faith and Strong Recovery!”
When he finishes school, Josh hopes to fulfill a dream that is anything but typical: he wants to become a social worker at Strong.
Jon once told himself, “I will never shoot up.”
He started using drugs when he was 13 or 14, beginning with marijuana. Next was ecstasy and cocaine.
When Jon had his wisdom teeth pulled, he was prescribed painkillers. Soon, he began experimenting with prescription drugs.
“It was so readily available,” says Jon. “I started using Vicodin and Percocet. I had no idea they could lead you to heroin.”
Jon was introduced to Fentanyl patches, an opioid that is about 100 times more powerful than morphine.
“My tolerance to opiates went through the roof,” Jon recalls.
By the time he was 21, Jon had been introduced to heroin. And by 23, he was an intravenous user of heroin and cocaine.
“You start out with two pills,” he says. “Then you’re up to 20 or 30. It gets expensive. So you start to rationalize it. You realize you can save money by doing heroin.”
Jon’s addiction was also driven by how terrible he would feel when he didn’t do drugs.
“You wake up sick,” he recalls. “It’s like the worst flu of your life. You start panicking because you need to go to work. So you do heroin out of necessity.”
Jon tried rehab, but soon realized he wasn’t ready for it. It took two jarring events to make him see his life needed to change.
“My best friend died of an overdose,” Jon says. “And then I had a near-fatal overdose myself. That’s when I knew I needed to give methadone and rehab a real shot.”
Jon came to Strong Recovery—but wasn’t able to begin methadone treatment for a month. He started in counseling. And discovered a powerful new tool: being truthful.
“I was completely honest with my counselor, Karen Dickinson,” Jon says. “When I did use, I just told her. As long as I was being truthful, there was nothing to worry about.”
Jon started on methadone and began making progress toward recovery. But beyond methadone, Strong Recovery gave Jon a structure and a blueprint for where he needed to go.
“They gave me a strong support network,” he says. “And they gave me techniques to help curb my anxiety. They also showed me how much I would need my family and friends.”
Jon has now been drug free since November of 2013. He has also taken what he learned and started helping others. Jon helped develop Strong Recovery’s New Patient Guidebook. Along with other Strong Recovery patients, he helped organize activities for National Recovery Month and for a recovery fair at a local mall.
“My family never gave up on me. And this program gave me a new lease on life,” he says. “I once thought a so-called normal life was impossible to achieve. But Strong Recovery gave me hope.”