Recovery Behind Bars – A Readers Story of Addiction

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My name is Kelvin and I’m a person in long-term recovery, which means that I haven’t used alcohol and other drugs since March 6th 2009.

I was 36 years old when I entered into recovery. I received treatment for my addiction in a Tier III modified therapeutic community program in prison. Since being in recovery, I have had the opportunity to go back to school for my certification for drug and alcohol counseling, receiving my certification as a Recovery Support Specialist from Advocacy Unlimited. I also received my Recovery Coach certification from the Recovery Coach Academy as offered by CCAR. I wrote a book about my experience with alcohol called The Demon in a Bottle.

I’m currently employed with a major mental health/addiction services agency helping other recovering addicts help themselves by providing peer-to-peer recovery support services. I also humbly serve on the board of directors for Advocacy Unlimited and CT Turning to Youth and Families.

I started using alcohol when I was 14 years old. I wanted to look and feel cool like my older brothers because they used to drink alcohol. It started off as a weekend thing, but by the time I reached high school, I was drinking 3-4 times a week.

My friends and I used to go to school drunk and sneak liquor into the school dances and get drunk in the bathrooms. By the time I was 17, I dropped out of high school, and that’s when I started drinking more heavily. I also started smoking marijuana. I enjoyed the feeling drugs gave me because of all the negative feelings I had about myself and the way my life was turning out because of the poor choices I was making in my addiction.

Throughout my late teens and 20s, I continued to make poor choices, which put me in very high risk situations. I was involved in two automobile accidents due to being under the influence of alcohol and other drugs. I was in numerous fights, was shot at, had guns pointed in my face, and got jumped by a gang of people.

By the time I reached 26, I had “graduated” to cocaine and heroin. I used to sniff coke and heroin on a daily basis. I spent thousands of dollars on alcohol and other drugs. I was unable to hold down a job due to the fact that I lost my driver’s license from my DUI convictions, alcoholism and drug addiction.

The feeling of poor self-esteem, worthlessness, insecurity, hopelessness, and frustration was embedded so deep into my subconscious mind that I became emotionally and spiritually bankrupt. I felt like a loser, so I used alcohol and other drugs as a means to escape the negative feelings I felt about myself, not realizing that my addiction was the main reason why I felt the way that I did in the first place. It was a vicious cycle!

I eventually landed myself in jail a few times just to get out and do the same thing. But my last bid, I was sentenced to 2-5 years in prison, locked away from my daughter, my family, friends and loved ones.

It was time to man up & face my addiction

I made the decision to change my life for the better, to be the man my daughter could look up to and be proud of. I had the opportunity to get the help I so desperately needed in the intensive drug treatment program in prison.

It was a 4 month program, and once I completed the program, the counselors hired me as a peer mentor in the program, helping my fellow inmates with their addictions through peer-to-peer support. I appreciated the opportunity because it helped me realize that I can help others to help themselves in their recovery.

It was a great experience for me because it gave me the tools I needed to make the transition into my community and continue to live a productive and meaningful life in recovery. Once I was released from prison, I contacted the ATR III program. ATR assigned me a case worker to help me in my recovery. My case manager and mentor, Sue H., provided me with the peer-to-peer support I especially needed in my early recovery. She linked me to various recovery support services in my community. I truly do value the services she rendered to me because it gave me the hope and confidence I needed to grow in my recovery and make the necessary changes I needed to make in my life. Being in recovery, I was able to heal my emotional wounds from my past experiences, grow spiritually, and rebuild healthy relationships with my family and loved ones.

Life is about learning, growing, and evolving.

I’ve learned from the experiences in my life and have grown emotionally, mentally, and spiritually from the knowledge I’ve obtained from them. That knowledge has helped my consciousness to evolve, and as a result of that, I’ve become more consciously aware of the choices I make in my life. I’m dedicated to putting a positive spin on recovery and being a personal example that recovery from alcohol, drugs and/or co-occurring disorders is possible.

 

SoberSober doesn’t Suck! is a place for people to share their stories of drinking, addiction and recovery openly and honestly. There is no requirement of sobriety for posting, if you’re concerned about your using I want to hear from you too.

If you’d like to tell your story, your feelings about your own addiction or that of someone else in your life please head over to the Sober doesn’t Suck! page. Addiction affects the people around us, I’m interested in sharing all sides.

Thank you so much to Kelvin for writing down his journey, it’s not easy but I’m certain it will give someone out here hope that living a sober life is possible and not bleak!

Comments

  1. Katy Hedrick says

    What an excellent story to read. I can appreciate this. I have been working through a book by Richard Quis about recovery and things of that nature. Thinking Anew: Harnessing the Power of Belief and it has helped me get to the point as Kelvin did, not on the same scale, but the point of being ready to make a change in my life. He is a motivator, and I am thankful I read this story today. helpthinkinganew.com if anyone is interested in taking a look at this workbook I have been into, it really has helped me see the changes I can make!

  2. Lee Pearson says

    What a survivor this man is! This story is a testament to the willpower of man. I think it is sad that he had to go to such a dark place in his life, but because of that he is the strong man that he is today and helping others. What an inspiration this story is and he should be extremely proud of himself and his accomplishment. Thank you for this uplifting post.

  3. says

    I applaud you Kelvin for reaching out for the help that was available to you while in prison. Finally accepting help when faced with serious criminal charges is the story of so many of my clients. It is heartbreaking to watch someone refuse the assistance that is offered to them over and over again. Over the years however, I have learned that it takes what it takes to cause someone to make the decision to change their life. As a result, I now know that it is foolish to give up on a client. Instead I work within the court system to ensure that the help they need is offered to them. An offer of well structured supervised treatment vs. jail time has inspired may of my clients to consider change. Alcoholism and addiction are the only chronic diseases that commonly have legal consequences. Court systems are only gradually waking up to the fact that punishment is not the solution. There are many things that can be done once someone has been charged with an addiction related crime that can make the difference between prolonging the suffering of the addict and getting them the help that they need. Thank you Jule for sharing Kelvin’s story on your blog. Recovery is possible regardless of how hopeless the circumstances may seem.

  4. says

    It is very inspiring to hear this kind of testimony. Though seems your situation was never ending, truly, each and every one’s life has a purpose. There will always be a reason why we are here on this earth. And I really admire those people who are involve in treatment program and addiction rehab service to help addicts and recovering addicts to have a lifelong sobriety.

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