Knox County Stories
Eleven years ago I was alone and dying from opioid addiction. In a moment of complete desperation I walked into a clinic I knew provided Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT). This clinic was able to provide services to me that very day. This not only alleviated the agony of withdrawal, but it also freed me from my enslavement to drugs and the demoralizing behaviors necessary to maintain that bond. Today, I truly believe because I was able to access same day treatment a rare opportunity to save an addict’s life was not lost.
With care and support, I transitioned from MAT to abstinence-based recovery one year later. My life since then has been an absolute miracle, and I’ve become a very active member of East Tennessee’s recovery community. I have a beautifully restored relationship with my children, both of whom serve as advocates for substance abuse prevention on Knoxville’s Youth Metro Drug Coalition, and I have a career helping others that is beyond my dreams. As a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist, I’m proud to serve the most vulnerable members of our community and educate an often misinformed public. I train future Certified Peer Recovery Specialists, assist with statewide suicide prevention efforts and share my story to change public and professional attitudes towards addiction.
I see the terrible effects of the opioid epidemic every day so I’m most grateful to use my lived experience to bring hope to addicts and their families, reminding them that recovery is available to everyone.
I facilitate Stepping Stones Recovery Support at Isabella Towers in Knoxville. I saw a need to bring recovery support to residents at a public housing complex in Knoxville (instead of waiting for people to come to me). By bringing support services to the people, I felt it would liberate those who have isolated themselves from society. My weekly meetings attendees include those addicted to opioids, alcohol and who have co-occurring disorder. When I started, I didn’t think that most of the people didn’t care, but time turned my way of thinking around. People come to be a part of a community on a weekly basis. We sometimes discuss difficult issues which makes the group that more cohesive and able to feel like they belong. Not only is it changing the lives of the participants but I’m growing by just being around the residents, by understanding what the real struggle is all about. This group has taught me how to listen and really understand the frustrations of wanting to live a sober life and the red tape that binds them from being successful. These issues in turn, open my creativity to present to organizations, other alternatives to accomplish some of their hopes and dreams.