My journey in recovery began after going to inpatient treatment in 1993. I learned about the traditional way of recovery, using a twelve step program. For me, this wasn’t my time to get serious about being a person in recovery and I didn’t remain in recovery long. It was in 1995 that I was ready. I was sitting in a jail cell facing multiple felony charges and believing my gig was up. I remember thinking this was it….I am done. At 29yrs old, I truly believed my life was over. After my sister bailed me out by putting her house up as collateral, everything shifted.
I distinctly remember this guy coming out to the treatment center and talking about the opportunity for people in early recovery to go to college. My immediate thought was it wouldn’t be for me……not good enough, smart enough, just not gonna work for me. Even with those pervasive thoughts, I listened. After leaving treatment, I followed his advice and went to Pierce College in Tacoma. I signed up for what they were offering. This was a setting where I would be with others in recovery who all had common goals. Either get back into the workforce or get a degree. Having the support through the program helped to change my pervasive negative thinking about not being good enough or smart enough. I was able to get a full-time job and gain an education. For me, that was my catalyst for change in the late 90’s.
Today, because of an education, I am a whole person who truly values my recovery in ways I never did prior to returning to school.
I had another opportunity to engage with education in 2009. After having been in recovery for over 10yrs, life stuff happened and I made the decision to return to use. For me, it didn’t go well. I was fortunate to be able to find recovery again in less than six months after returning to use.
Being in a college town, I remember saying to myself during this time “why not go back to school and finish what you started in the late 90’s”. In the winter of 2009, I enrolled at Central Washington University. Doing this has helped me in so many ways it is nearly impossible to truly quantify. Yet, the main thing, getting an education, is the largest part of it all that has helped my recovery to this day. I graduated with a Bachelors in 2011 and a Masters in 2012.
Today, I have a career that I could never have dreamed of before returning to school. Today, I am able to be an advocate to a much wider audience than before I returned to school. Today, because of an education, I am a whole person who truly values my recovery in ways I never did prior to returning to school. I have learned about the many pathways to recovery that I never knew about before. I have learned about the amazing advances that have been made with science-based treatment methods that I never knew before. I value the coupling of education and recovery and I’m an advocate for helping others to gain what I gained by making the decision to get an education.
I am good enough, smart enough, and I am worth it. You are too.
Written by David A Douglas