Recovery Month: An Inspiring Story
Recovery Month, observed annually since 1989, aims to raise awareness, promote understanding, and tackle the pervasive stigma that surrounds addiction and its treatment. This month serves as a beacon of hope for the millions of individuals and families affected by addiction.
Despite the progress made in understanding addiction as a disease, stigma still looms large, particularly when it comes to addiction treatment. Stigma poses significant barriers to addiction treatment and recovery. It discourages individuals from seeking help, perpetuates cycles of addiction, and isolates those in need. To create a society that is compassionate and supportive of those dealing with addiction, we must educate ourselves, encourage open dialogues about addiction, and share personal stories of triumph over addiction.
These stories of recovery humanize the experience and show that recovery is possible. To that end, we’d like to share a story from one of our staff members. Velvet Rizer is a Case Manager at Hudson Behavioral Health and has a relatable but unique story.
Written By: Velvet Rizer
I have found peace within myself, in my very soul, in recovery. This is something my addiction never allowed. I learned that the roots of my addiction began in my early life, as far back as the time I became self-aware. From that moment all the elements of becoming a drug user began lining up. My life was ruled by chaos and drama, anger and violence; I spent a lot of time learning how to protect myself, both physically and emotionally. My earliest form of self-protection was school and books…learning and reading…and this served me well later in life. As I got older, I was able to “write out my pain” by keeping secret journals and writing poetry. I ran away from home for the first time at age 13. At 16 I discovered the high school crowd and started smoking pot and cigarettes and drinking. I got married for the first time 2 weeks before my seventeenth birthday. I didn’t know then that the drugs and alcohol were what I used to face the day, to get through the night and to escape both.
I never considered myself an addict – it was just something I did to function. I worked for long periods at jobs, married three times, had two children, bought my own houses, had many friends and co-workers, had numerous vehicles, was involved in Church, my community and my children’s school. I had everything…I was the Golden Girl! No one even suspected I was high all the time. I was just a functioning addict doing what I had to do to feel normal. Still, everything in life was a struggle; I was always unhappy and looking for something else. By age 40 pot, alcohol and cigarettes weren’t enough. I discovered the world of crack cocaine, and it didn’t take long for life to disintegrate completely…every aspect of my life…poof!
At 61 I was arrested…again…for the 7th time in less than 20 years! I decided enough was enough, and I turned my face back to God and surrendered and said, “I’m done… please help me.” That decision changed everything, like God had a magic wand! I was offered the opportunity to get treatment at Hudson Behavioral Health and I grabbed it; I was determined to do whatever I needed to do to change my life for the better. I shut my mouth, opened my heart and mind, and embraced everything that came my way…and before I even realized it… peace entered my soul…and for the first time in my life, all the way back to the first moment of self-awareness…peace, serenity and order took over my inner self. I began to feel genuine happiness!
Just because I felt peace and order within myself, that didn’t mean everything in life became rainbows and roses. There have been some hard days and bad situations that have come my way. The difference now is that I feel more calm, more rational and more patient when things arise. I can sit and contemplate the situation and make better decisions on how to proceed. I’m not perfect. There are still things I must be mindful of about myself…like being patient…like having faith that my Higher Power will help me work through things. Sometimes I know I need to sit back and let Him work. Other times He tells me what I need to do. Most of all and no matter what, I remain honest…about anything and everything. Honesty frees your soul! Altering yourself with drugs or alcohol is a toxic brew of dishonesty. It leads to impatience and anxiety because you know you’re not living right. Living honest and being rational and patient brings peace and serenity. I can still get wound up, fussing and cussing, speaking impulsively. Recovery has taught me to take a step back from that edge, call someone who is supportive of my recovery, like my sponsor, or talk with my God. This allows me to consider the situation, re-evaluate my behavior, then try to do something better about it.
I knew early in recovery that to stay clean and sober, to continue that feeling of peace and freedom inside I was going to have to surround myself with “like-minded” people. So, I have gathered up new associations; people in the NA Program, my sponsor who has many years clean, my co-workers here at Hudson. They all serve to help me feel comfortable in my new, honest, peaceful skin. I renewed my faith in God, for I truly believe that my entire “recovery” descended from Him. He put me where I needed to be. He put people in my path who could help me. He gave me opportunities to find my purpose. So now I work for Hudson Behavioral Health and I’ve found my purpose. The Narcotics Anonymous Program, Hudson Behavioral Health, and my renewed faith in my Higher Power has prompted me to do my part in looking after the vulnerable, (other addicts just like me) as I keep myself from the negative influences of the world…and stay clean! Oh, and by the way…I’m happy, genuinely happy living my life!
Hudson Behavioral Health was formed in 1980 (as Hudson Health Services, Inc.) to bring the first residential recovery program to the Eastern Shore. Today, thousands of patients later, we remain the leader in recovery programs and resources, with our staff of 100 committed to serving each patient as an individual.