Man on Mountain in Shadow

“Growing From Experience”

A winning essay from our Brighter Future Scholarship contest

Addiction has had an extreme impact on my life. I come from a family where alcoholism was often minimized, and it was the way many family members coped with the things they felt were wrong in their life. This coping mechanism was what I turned to when I was experiencing feelings that I did not know how to express, and this led me to also struggle with addiction issues. I battled a struggling heroin addiction for the majority of my life, but I have been blessed with finding recovery, and I currently have five years clear from all substances. 

While in active addiction, I struggled to maintain any semblance of an ordinary life, and the end result was me being homeless. I was forced to depend on others in every aspect of my life, and my family had given up hope that I would not die from the disease of addiction. I was arrested multiple times for offenses related to drug use, and I truly believed that I was irredeemable, destined to die from an overdose. When I finally hit rock bottom, I asked for help from a social worker in an attempt to find a treatment center, and I have been clean since I left that center in 2018. 

Since then, I have been a member of a 12-step fellowship where I continue to attend meetings regularly. This fellowship helped me to build confidence and self-esteem, and through the relationships that I have forged, I have been able to build a life that is both gratifying and enjoyable. I returned to school at the age of 40, and I began my journey towards becoming an alcohol and drug counselor. I have worked in substance abuse treatment since 2019, and last year I made the decision to return to school for a degree in social work. 

I am currently a senior in university, and I work full time at an opioid treatment program. My plans for the future are to continue with my education and someday open a treatment center that may help people that have felt hopeless and less than. This scholarship will assist with the rise in gas costs that have plagued me since I returned to school approximately one hour from my home, and it will alleviate the stress associated with this issue. 

I believe that the experiences that I have endured have given me the ability to understand that addiction is something that affects people from all backgrounds, and that there is not a cookie-cutter wat to deal with this problem. The need for people to help those afflicted with this disease without judgment, and to treat them with compassion and empathy is apparent. I believe that the first step towards helping those struggling is to give them hope. The hope that they have the ability to change their lives, and the hope that one day they will not be in as much pain as they are while using. The greatest thing a person can do for themselves is to help someone else, and this is a calling that I feel is an expression the love I experienced by being saved. 

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