Coming Full Circle to Give Back to Others
Shawn Pricket works as a certified peer specialist at Pioneer Center North (PCN), a residential treatment program. PCN uses evidence-based programming to work with individuals that are struggling with substance use disorders and chronic behavioral health issues.
In this story, Shawn shares his personal struggles and how he came through Pioneer's Co-occurring (CORP) treatment program. Shawn now uses his lived-experience, and passion to help others in his daily work. We thank Shawn for sharing his personal journey with us.
My story starts in the beautiful island of Maui in Hawaii. Many call it paradise, but as with any place, there is always the risk of ending up making bad choices and changing your experience in the place you love.
Challenges as a Youth
From an early age, I had challenging behavioral health issues and was diagnosed with social phobia/anxiety, clinical depression and ADHD. This led me to struggle in school and stunted my capabilities of making healthy social connections and bonding with friends. Through this, I ended up hanging out with the wrong type of kids – for all the wrong reasons. The new group of teens around me felt drawn to me because of my outbursts and bad behavior. They didn’t know who I really was – they just liked me because of who I became.
At school, I was eventually deemed, “cool” from other kids that caused trouble due to my bad behavior, substance use and sudden outlashes. By the age of 17, I went to my first inpatient treatment program in Hilo on the big island of Hawaii. I was young and needed more mental health counseling so, unfortunately, the program did not help me change my patterns.
Substance Use and Mental Health Issues Collide
Through all of my twenties, I was heavy into drinking and drugs not knowing who I was or what I was looking for in life. I moved to the state of Washington after my second DUI in Hawaii and ended up in an intensive outpatient program to work on my substance use disorder. However, my unchecked impulsive behavior and lack of self-worth wore on me and I continued to use drugs.
When I turned 28, I finally found a calling and decided to start my own Kombucha business from the ground-up. It was a positive business adventure for me but later down the road I ended up being drawn into heavier drugs that affected my work ethic and focus. The drugs took over with negative consequences for me, my business and my future plans. I eventually lost it all.
Co-occurring Treatment Program
After a three-year binge, it all finally came to a halt as I hit rock bottom. In a drug-induced psychosis, I attempted suicide and was admitted to a psych ward. My life was on the edge and shortly after being released from the psych ward, I was arrested for behavior due to my drug use. After spending eight months in jail, I was presented with the opportunity to reduce my charges by going into an approved treatment program for a duration of time. The opportunity proved to be a great decision as I needed treatment, not incarceration, and the center I was referred to was Pioneer’s CORP program in Seattle that provides specialized residential treatment for men and women with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorder issues.
During my stay at CORP, I started reading more and spending more time focusing on myself and on my passions. From all the years of substance use, I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder that was explained to me as being a direct result of my drug use. I learned coping and self-monitoring skills at CORP, along with identifying my relapse triggers, and I went on to overcome my disorder and social anxiety.
When I completed the CORP program, I realized that I had a true passion to help others and would be able to share my past struggles and experiences in relapse and recovery with other individuals. I now had a perspective some people in recovery might need for support and advocacy.
After being clean and sober for two years, I became certified as a peer counselor and applied for employment at Pioneer Center North, a residential treatment program in Sedro-Woolley. At first, I was hired to work as a residential treatment specialist, and then I transitioned into the peer specialist position where I provide support and guidance to our clients on their recovery journeys.
Pioneer has helped me in more ways than I could have dreamt of and I am truly grateful for the opportunity to give back to others. It is a great experience to now be part of this amazing organization!