I am not my addiction..

Anne Emerson
Tell us about your (or your loved one's) recovery journey. What has been the most rewarding part?

My dream as a kid wasn't to grow up and become a person with a substance use disorder, but meth took over my life, destroying every hope and every dream.

I lost jobs, cars, my house, custody of my son, and if that wasn't enough, I lost myself. I spent 13 months in prison, wondering every night how I let meth destroy my life.

I had had bouts of sobriety, some lasting as long as 4-5 years, but there was always a relapse, which always included more jail time.

I came home from prison December 8th 2015, determined to never use again, but my boyfriend at the time was still using. I tried to remain strong but eventually relapsed. Struggling to remain sober, my boyfriend died from a fentanyl overdose December 3rd 2017. I struggled for months, I hated life, and knew I couldn't afford to let drugs take over my life, not again.

To help get me through the grief of my boyfriend's death, I became an advocate for the opioid epidemic, a voice for those who no longer had one. I knew a life in the world of recovery was exactly what I needed. And being in recovery isn't just being sober. It is a way of living life, dealing with your issues that made you want to use, learning to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. It meant changing people, places and things.

I was given a scholarship to Washington D.C. in April 2018 to meet with congress and share my boyfriend's story, and then invited back to D.C. in October 2018 to be a Marshal in the Fed Up Rally Opioid March to the Whitehouse. Even though I struggled, I wasn't giving up and I would piece my life together and live a life in recovery.

I became an ambassador for Shatterproof, and worked with the Voices Project, Mobilize Recovery and Steve Rummler's Hope Network doing recovery advocacy work and Narcan trainings. I took a DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy) class and figured out why I kept relapsing and learned new skills and tools that would help detour me when thoughts of using raised.

Today, I am forever grateful for recovery and all the amazing support I have had. The numerous new people I have in my life that I can call real friends. I have a job, a new car, my own place to live. I have my son and family back. And best of all I have myself back. I just recently was discharged from probation 11 months early which is something that doesn't happen often.

It's proof that we can an do recover, we just have to be willing to do the work.

Do you have a message for the Shatterproof community?

I think its important for anyone just getting into recovery to know that there are many paths to recovery, and just because one doesn't seem to be working don't give up, try another.

For some its AA/NA, working the 12 Steps and with a sponsor. For others its Smart Recovery, Celebrate Recovery or a faith based recovery path. If you're an opiate user, don't turn away from a medicated assisted program or recovery path because someone else opposes to it. If you aren't quite ready to quit, stride for harm reduction: making sure you never use alone, dispose of your needles safely, carry Narcan in case of an overdose and know the signs of someone overdosing.

And last but not least don't be afraid to reach out for help, don't let fear stand in your way of living a life in recovery, where you can take back your hopes and dreams