Seven Years in Recovery

Amy Parker, a Peer Recovery Supporter at BrightView Health, holds a box of NARCAN, a nasal spray that can reverse opioid overdoses.

Amy Parker, a Peer Recovery Supporter at BrightView Health, holds a box of NARCAN, a nasal spray that can reverse opioid overdoses.

 

This year I celebrated seven years in recovery from heroin addiction. Not only has it been seven years without heroin, but it’s also at least five years with a completely different lifestyle and character. 

After I overdosed in 2012, I  went into detox six weeks later. At that point, I couldn’t imagine what my life was going to be like seven days later, let alone seven years later. Hell, I didn’t expect to live that long. The Suboxone helped me get through the withdrawal, and I was required to go to 12-step meetings. 

Although I  really needed the 12-step program, I felt very triggered in the meetings. I was too worried about who in the room was holding. So, I isolated. At the time, I lived with someone who was in active addiction. Not using heroin while it’s in front of you every single day is difficult. I will admit though, I smoked pot a few times a day. That allowed me to  get through without turning to the needle. 

In 2017, when I reached five years of recovery, I began my career in the field of addiction treatment. I applied to Brightview in Cincinnati, an outpatient addiction treatment center that specializes in medication assisted treatment. Dr. Shawn Ryan, Brightview’s chief medical officer, invited me in for an interview.  To my surprise, Brightview created a new role for me as a Peer Recovery Supporter (PRS). When my new supervisor explained the position me, I was amazed. “You mean to tell me that I have a job where the number one qualification is that I identify as a person in recovery from Substance Use Disorder and/or mental illness?” It was true.

In this new position, I developed the Peer Recovery Supporter program that is used in BrightView’s 10 clinical offices. Through the program, we provide additional support to those who need it. I also designed the program so that our PRS don’t have a caseload of patients. It’s important that people in recovery are supported and not overwhelmed. BrightView recognizes the need for our patients to have peers who can say, “I’ve been there, I get it. I want to help you find your way. I want to see you succeed and have your life back. I want to see you alive.” 

This past weekend I spoke in front of more than 500 people at the Opiate and Other Drug Conference. When I left the conference, I checked my phone and saw something incredible. A young woman who I have supported in her journey was accepted into the Peer Recovery Certification training class that I am hosting.

These full circle moments give me the fuel I need to keep giving away what I have. I’m grateful.