Former Pioneer Center North Client Gives Back to Community
The current mayor of a small town reached out to express his thanks to everyone at Pioneer Center North that helped him successfully achieve a life of sobriety almost 12 years ago. He shared a photo of his canine roommates and his recovery journey with us.
Life is an adventure and an experience that is never going to be easy, but it can be meaningful and fulfilling. I have been clean and sober since 2006 and I wanted to share my experience at the Pioneer Center North treatment program that started my successful journey in recovery and gave me the tools to stay clean. I hope that my experience will inspire others who, not unlike me, will always be one drink or drug use away from a revisited life of shame, despair and misery.
Currently, I am the mayor of a small town, and I serve on the board of directors for several county and district committees, departments and foundations. As you might expect, I am busy – but it is a good busy! I wish I could say I have a perfect life now with fame and fortune but I don’t. I am just a hard working citizen who is trying to give back to the community and make up for my past. Just because I have a title or two doesn't make me any more special than the poorest person in my community.
In my life, I make it a point not to look back except when I need to remind myself why I stay in recovery and of the feelings I had of loneliness and worthlessness when I was abusing alcohol or drugs. That kicks me back into gear as I now have many responsibilities, citizens who depend on me and many things I want to accomplish.
Substance Abuse Struggles
I was struggling with my addiction for many years. My addiction had taken a toll on my health and my life in general – affecting everything and everyone connected to me. I was sick and tired of my lifestyle and knew I needed help to change. I had left another recovery program when a friend told me about Pioneer Center North’s (PCN) residential treatment program. She told me that if I was serious about getting sober and staying in recovery, I should try to get into the program.
After my alcohol addiction was rolling into a drug addiction, it didn’t take me long to see that I needed to make a change and commitment to recovery so I called PCN and self-referred myself into the program. It was the best thing I could have ever done. There are so many staff members at PCN who work tirelessly to help men and women face their addiction and learn how to move past it. They don’t do it for the money – they are just truly dedicated to serving others who need help in life.
Engaging in Treatment
In the program, my needs were assessed when I arrived. I engaged in group therapy and behavioral classes that helped me to address things like coping techniques and life skills, self-esteem, motivational programming, and relapse behavior and prevention. I also created a plan for what I was going to do on my release. When it was time for me to graduate from the program 60 days later I was really scared. I could stay clean living in the program but what about after I was released? It was frightening to think that I was going to be out there facing every bar, liquor store and drug dealer again and would need to have the strength to say, “No.”
I remember that back in the days before I entered the program, I couldn’t seem to pass a store without buying alcohol no matter how hard I tried. Being in PCN helped me to get the support I needed and gain some sober time without any temptation or chance to drink. It was necessary for me to have that time – a safe haven from my addiction(s).
When I finally packed up to leave I realized I did have what I needed to beat the struggle. I had some of my self-respect and self-esteem back, and I had the recovery tools I learned in classes along with my written plan of how to move forward in life and never turn around. Also, I was encouraged to apply for college to increase my education. I applied for, and was awarded, a scholarship to attend a community college a few weeks after being released from PCN. That opportunity to go to college helped me stay sober, focus on my future and reach for a dream, instead of stressing about my recovery. I feel very grateful for my experience at PCN.
In life, I don't pay attention to why things cannot be accomplished, but instead I try to focus on why or how they might be achieved. My advice to others is to never be afraid to ask questions of other people - like why something has never been tried before. And don't accept "we have always done it this way."
Today, my focus is on serving my community, helping my neighbors and staying involved with local events and organizations that affect every citizens’ health and lifestyle. I feel good about myself now and hope to inspire others in having a healthy life.