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Grown Into Addiction
Two Recovering Addicts Share Their Paths to Serenity After Conquering Substance Abuse
When we think of a person with a drug or alcohol addiction, we tend to imagine adults. But many of the recovering addicts we spoke to said their habits started in childhood and escalated over time. For some, it stemmed from a family history of substance abuse, while others said they experimented and ended up falling down a slippery slope.
What each person had in common, however, was the unfailing strength to fight back against their addiction. These are just a couple of their inspiring stories.
Coryanne sought to be the positive example she never had
You could say Coryanne was born into a life of addiction. Her substance abuse started at a young age, eventually spiraling out of control as she became an adult.
“I have been an addict since I was 13,” she revealed. “My mom kind of got me started, and over the past year, it went from doing pain pills and snorting stuff to the needle. And that became a drug itself.”
Now a mother herself, Coryanne realized she didn’t want to set the same dangerous example for her children. She said she feared putting them through the trauma of not only losing their mom, but of stumbling upon an accidental overdose.
“I have three kids that look up to me, and I knew they were going to end up finding me dead,” she said.
One of the greatest challenges with addiction is that even if you know getting sober is the right thing to do — for yourself and for your family — taking that positive step is frightening. It seems easier to believe you can conquer it yourself, without asking for anyone’s help.
But Coryanne said she finally realized she had finally run out of options:
“I knew I couldn’t keep running, and I couldn’t do it by myself. I tried and it didn’t work. I was going to end up killing myself,” she explained.
So she took action. She checked into addiction treatment at Serenity Rehab Center, and said that a big part of her success was her state of mind. She took her program to heart and constantly reminded herself that sobriety was truly what she wanted. And it paid off.
“It just gave me a second chance when I didn’t think I deserved one,” she said. “I look forward to getting my life together, because I can now. I have the proper tools to deal with life on life’s terms.”
Chris had happy beginnings that turned dark
Chris said there was nothing particularly destructive about his upbringing, but that he simply chose the wrong path.
“I started off as an intelligent individual. I did really well in school and was successful in my own business — and then things just kind of got out of hand. I started off using drugs in high school, and it progressed into something that ended up as my detriment,” he recalled.
His addiction journey ended up taking everything he had. He’d gone from a happy childhood to a successful career to nothing … and had no idea how it had happened.
“Eventually, I found myself homeless, and I remember looking up one day and thinking to myself, ‘How the heck did my life turn into this?’” he said.
Chris explained that entering rehabilitation was the first step to regaining control — and this time, he wouldn’t let his progress slip away.
“To me, it was life changing, and it’s going to be something that I will hold close to my heart,” he said. “I was given a second chance, and I feel it — I’m going to be successful.”
Part of what makes Coryanne and Chris so inspirational is that they fell into addiction when they were too young to truly understand the consequences of their actions, yet they still managed to overcome their disease.
According to Coryanne, it wasn’t just about discovering her way back — it was about self-discovery, too.
“I found myself. I see the good in myself, and I see the good in others,” she said with a smile.
Hello, my name is Stacy. I am Dena’ina Athabascan from Tyonek, Alaska. On November 8, 2016 I celebrated 90 days sober from alcohol. I haven’t consumed drugs since March 8, 2016.
I have been struggling with addiction since I was 11 years old; I’m 29 years now. I must say recovery has brought me so much joy. I hit my rock bottom in March. I had once again lost everything. Being tired of being sick and tired, I reached out for help. My elementary school teacher and I were talking while I was struggling. She asked me, “Stacy what do you want to do?” I said that I needed help that I needed to get out of the city for a while and try to get into treatment. Well, she came through! She happened to have miles and used them to get me a ticket to Portland, Oregon.
When I got there I didn’t know what I was doing, I kept telling myself, “just give up there is no hope for someone like me,” but for some reason I kept getting out of bed, I kept fighting. Everyday I took the bus to get to my outpatient groups and I called and called for residential treatment to see if they had space for me. Even when I didn’t know what was going to happen I stayed and fought even when I felt like it wasn’t worth it.
One day while getting ready to take the bus to my outpatient group I got the call from a treatment center telling me they had room for me! I was terrified. I packed and they picked me up. That was the longest and most horrible ride of my life. But that’s when my life began. I spent 54 of the most challenging but amazing days in treatment. I graduated May 24, 2016.
I completed my program but the program wasn’t the hard part, the hard part was trying to become a normal functioning person of society again. I moved back in with my former teacher, I got a job as a checker at a grocery store and then went on to work at a bakery. I met a lot of other people in recovery and they were awesome. I missed Alaska and was ready to head back home. I have been in Wasilla for a few weeks now. I’m scared; it’s all dawning on me. I’m back but not just back, I’m a whole new me a better sober me that has her eyes open and a big heart, I want to help people who are struggling with their addiction but I just don’t know where to start. I do trust the process and have confidence everything else will work out. I’d just like to let others know, if I can do it so can you. Just believe and know that there is a better way to live!
From Ivy League to the penitentiary, one man’s story of redemption and hope.
I will never forget the moment in 2004 when Judge Hardesty told me that I was sentenced to 6 years in the Nevada State Prison for the crime of drug sales. How had I reached a point in my journey that I was returning to prison for the 3rd time, how could I have reached a time in my life that I was so low and ashamed that my life consisted of abandoned houses, soup kitchens, homeless shelters and cheap motels?
My early life showed much promise when I moved to Anchorage in September 1975 from upstate New York. I was 12 years old and in 8th grade at Central Jr. High near downtown Anchorage. I went to Bartlett High School where I was fortunate to take advanced classes and continue the academic bent that I had displayed as a young child. Even though I had some trauma connected to violence in my home due to my father’s alcoholism, I was a pretty well rounded student and young man that showed great promise.
In 1980 at age 17 I was accepted to a prestigious and exclusive Ivy League college named Dartmouth College. As a new freshman I was introduced to drugs and alcohol at a level I had never experienced in my simple Anchorage high school life. I fell into fraternity life like a duck to water and began my early descent into incomprehensible demoralization and depression.
After barely graduating from Dartmouth College in 1984 I returned to Anchorage and was sent to my first outpatient drug addiction and alcoholism treatment center called Northpoint. I was 21 years old and I did not know that it was to be the first of over 14 treatment centers that I was to be a client of during the next 20 years.
I remained sober for a short period of time but by 1989 I found myself homeless and living in the streets in Seattle WA. My life consisted of drinking on the streets, smoking crack in the alleys and committing small crimes and “hustles” to feed my addictions. I was convicted of 2 DUIs in a period of 4 days (a story in itself!) in 1990 and also picked up a theft charge around that time. In 1991 I received my first Class A felony of house burglary; while intoxicated I burglarized a home next to my work site in the University District area of Seattle. I was sentenced to 5 years in prison suspended with intensive probation.
I stayed clean and sober for 2 years (same period I was on probation!) and built a life of work and self-respect. In 1994 I relapsed and entered a period of degradation, shame and self-hatred for the next 10 years with short periods of clean time while in treatment, jail or prison. It seemed that every time I would say to myself “There is nothing I could do worse then what I just did…” I found myself in a situation where I would just go down to another level of shame and degradation.
Finally, in 2004 on September 22 I reached the end after selling crack (for money to travel to another treatment center!) to an undercover officer and was sentenced to 6 years in prison. I have been completely clean and sober since 9/23/2004.
While in prison I made the choice to follow the tenets of the Anonymous programs and get a sponsor and work the steps. I met a man there who became my sponsor when I was released from prison in 2007 and he helped me to seek a means outside of “self” to modify by actions and behavior in relation to drugs, alcohol and all of the selfish things that removed me from a conscious connection with a God.
I returned to Anchorage in 2009 to marry my high school sweetheart and have truly become a participating and productive member of my community and society. I belong and volunteer with numerous organizations and contribute to the Anonymous programs by remaining clean and sober and by sponsoring other men. Most importantly I have regained my self-respect, acquired a God that provides me direction and courage to make good decisions for me and my loved ones. Also I have been blessed with the ability to love again and trust others and myself. Today my life is beautiful and fulfilling and I feel that the redemptive possibilities of recovery await all that want recovery and will work for it.
I graduated from my first intensive inpatient treatment on November 4, 2015. I was addicted and had lost everything in my life. Lost my husband, my kids, and my job. Most of all, I lost all self-respect. I was in such a deep hole for so many years, so many undealt issues that brought me to use.
I almost drove off a bluff and killed myself but a friend prayed for me before I drove off and my truck completely shut off. I am so thankful for her. Had it not been for her, I wouldn’t be here today.
I came back to my community in Barrow, Alaska to help my people back into recovery. I love who I’ve become today and have worked very hard to get where I am. I created a page called AB0VE THE INFLUENCE AK that has over 900 members today. The page was created to bring awareness, healing, and encouragement. I choose to live AB0VE THE INFLUENCE today and everyday that God keeps me on this earth. I just wanted to share a little bit about my story.
Hi, my name is Chris. Just under two years ago I had a drug and alcohol addiction. I was very depressed and couldn’t see any future. I attended a rehab program and with support I managed to turn my life around. I started to work as a volunteer with a recover team and they taught me refurbishment skills.
I now love life and would never look back. My days are happy and I have an amazing future ahead of me. I up-cycle old, vintage furniture into modern, contemporary, one-of-a-kind pieces.
I just thought I’d share that as of February 12th, 2014 I became sober.
My name is Alicia. It’s been over 2 years since I quit. It was not an easy process but with the help of my dreams of flying and starting paragliding first then later hang gliding, I am still sober. I am Native Alaskan. Sometimes it takes achieving your dreams to make things happen. I still fight the urge but with each passing day it gets easier. Free flight has been my help to recovery.