A Journey to Recovery
In recognition of Recovery Month, PTTC joined forces with Demetrie Garner to share his journey to recovery. If you or someone you know is in recovery, we would like to hear your story. We encourage you to submit your personal recovery story to [email protected].
By Demetrie Garner
September is recognized as National Recovery Month, a time to support behavioral changes and celebrate freedom from active use. During this month, prevention and treatment options are highlighted with the testimonials of persons in long-term recovery. The pathway to recovery is different for everybody, but the journey can only happen with a supportive community.
The journey of self-awareness toward the possibility of recovery and all it entails is possible with the help of individuals that have led the way to freedom from active use. The path to recovery comes with the recognition of peer support and, in turn, the development of self-discovery. The road seems less arduous when traveled together. Help from peers strengthens well-being, promoting continuous self-awareness and inner strength.
While in active use, my desires became geared towards whatever could feed the next high. I did not understand that continuous use would change my whole nature, even after 26 years of moving down a path that turned me into a self-absorbed individual who only knew how to feed my desires. The condition of “seeking and using more” had become my desire.
When the process of recovery met my animalistic nature, the only approach that would keep me engaged was peer perspective. The community of peers gave me a visual representation of recovery. This first step of seeing my peers seeking freedom from active use gave me hope for the possibility of change within me. Their testimonies of facing individual life struggles while changing their outlook on their behaviors produced the essence of recovery right before me. My goal was to possess what they possessed.
Starting down the road to recovery did not stop at a state of introspection after almost four years of a daily reprieve from active addiction. I have been fortunate to give back by serving the same community that I identify with. As a peer specialist on the front lines of the fentanyl epidemic, my experiences of homelessness, overdose, and family separation helped bridge the gap toward a new way of life for others. The gift of recovery has given me a career as an emergency department peer specialist and hepatitis C regional navigator and trainer with the Prevention Technology Transfer Center (specializing in peer perspective). The opportunities I was afforded include attending college for the first time and excelling in an Accelerated Master’s Program of Public Policy, a budding academic career in the McNair Scholars Program, a member of the Sigma Phi Omega honor society, a Dean’s List recipient, and a winner of the coveted UMBC Undergraduate Research Award. These accolades are just the outward gifts of recovery. The real gift is the inner strength and peace that the God of my understanding of the recovery process has given me. He has given me the gift of love for myself and others while introducing me to him.