Recovery behind bars
My name is Kelvin and I’m a person in long-term recovery, which means that I haven’t used alcohol and other drugs since March 6th 2009. I was 36 years old when I entered into recovery. I received treatment for my addiction in a Tier III modified therapeutic community program in prison. Since being in recovery, I have had the opportunity to go back to school for my certification for drug and alcohol counseling, receiving my certification as a Recovery Support Specialist from Advocacy Unlimited. I also received my Recovery Coach certification from the Recovery Coach Academy as offered by CCAR. I wrote a book about my experience with alcohol called The Demon in a Bottle. I’m currently employed with a major mental health/addiction services agency helping other recovering addicts help themselves by providing peer to peer recovery support services. I also humbly serve on the board of directors for Advocacy Unlimited and CT Turning to Youth and Families.
I started using alcohol when I was 14 years old. I wanted to look and feel cool like my older brothers because they used to drink alcohol. It started off as a weekend thing, but by the time I reached high school, I was drinking 3-4 times a week. My friends and I used to go to school drunk and sneak liquor into the school dances and get drunk in the bathrooms. By the time I was 17, I dropped out of high school, and that’s when I started drinking more heavily. I also started smoking marijuana. I enjoyed the feeling drugs gave me because of all the negative feelings I had about myself and the way my life was turning out because of the poor choices I was making in my addiction. Throughout my late teens and 20s, I continued to make poor choices, which put me in very high risk situations. I was involved in two automobile accidents due to being under the influence of alcohol and other drugs. I was in numerous fights, was shot at, had guns pointed in my face, and got jumped by a gang of people.
By the time I reached 26, I had “graduated” to cocaine and heroin. I used to sniff coke and heroin on a daily basis. I spent thousands of dollars on alcohol and other drugs. I was unable to hold down a job due to the fact that I lost my driver’s license from my DUI convictions and drug addiction. The feeling of poor self-esteem, worthlessness, insecurity, hopelessness, and frustration was embedded so deep into my subconscious mind that I became emotionally and spiritually bankrupt. I felt like a loser, so I used alcohol and other drugs as a means to escape the negative feelings I felt about myself, not realizing that my addiction was the main reason why I felt the way that I did in the first place. It was a vicious cycle!
I eventually landed myself in jail a few times just to get out and do the same thing. But my last bid, I was sentenced to 2-5 years in prison, locked away from my daughter, my family, friends and loved ones. It was time to man up! I made the decision to change my life for the better, to be the man my daughter could look up to and be proud of. I had the opportunity to get the help I so desperately needed in the intensive drug treatment program in prison. It was a 4 month program, and once I completed the program, the counselors hired me as a peer mentor in the program, helping my fellow inmates with their addictions through peer to peer support. I appreciated the opportunity because it helped me realize that I can help others to help themselves in their recovery. It was a great experience for me because it gave me the tools I needed to make the transition into my community and continue to live a productive and meaningful life in recovery. Once I was released from prison, I contacted the ATR III program. ATR assigned me a case worker to help me in my recovery. My case manager and mentor, Sue H., provided me with the peer to peer support I especially needed in my early recovery. She linked me to various recovery support services in my community. I truly do value the services she rendered to me because it gave me the hope and confidence I needed to grow in my recovery and make the necessary changes I needed to make in my life. Being in recovery, I was able to heal my emotional wounds from my past experiences, grow spiritually, and rebuild healthy relationships with my family and loved ones.
For me, life is about learning, growing, and evolving. I’ve learned from the experiences in my life and have grown emotionally, mentally, and spiritually from the knowledge I’ve obtained from them. That knowledge has helped my consciousness to evolve, and as a result of that, I’ve become more consciously aware of the choices I make in my life. I’m dedicated to putting a positive spin on recovery and being a personal example that recovery from alcohol, drugs and/or co-occurring disorders is possible.