“Growing up with a loved one suffering from substance use disorder has taught me to be the best version of myself. I know how to ask for help, and if I see someone struggling, I am able to share my experience and tell them that it’s okay to be scared, that you are not alone and despite the negative stigmas, addition does not define you.” - Paige C.
“Two DUIs made me realize that at some point, you are going to have to ask for help before you die. This was my point. And while there are still family members who don’t know how to deal with me sober, my immediate family life has improved greatly since becoming sober. I have made a career of my sobriety by working in the addictions field and am happy to have six years sober.” - Edwin S.
“I lost custody of my child and fell out of touch with my family and myself and ended up incarcerated before seeking treatment. Even while in jail, I was judged as an addict. I felt ashamed, lost and hopeless. Recovery was scary at first, but it’s possible with hard work and a support system. I have my family back, I have a degree, and I am a certified recovery specialist. Even if this attempt at recovery is your 12th attempt, this could be the one that sticks.” - Angela H.
“While using drugs, I was constantly looked at wrong and verbally abused. I lied about my use and I hid it, and I was embarrassed of my parents who also suffered from substance use disorders. I hit rock bottom and relapsed a number of times, which led to more judgement, mocking and ridicule. I have now been clean and sober for 10 years and 4 months, and let’s just say, my life of turmoil has turned into a life I treasure." - Robert D.
“Seeing others use substances always looked like fun, but the way people look down on you while using makes you not want to talk about it. I did not seek help until I lost absolutely everything and dealt with the scary experience of administering Narcan®. I’ve learned from relapsing and continue to want to push to do better. It’s never too late to seek help.” - Caitlyn K.
“After my brother passed away, my family experienced judgement and slander, and we learned that society as a whole looks down on people with substance use disorders. Those suffering from addiction need to understand that they are the majority, not the minority, that addiction does not discriminate, and WE are here for you.” - Pat M.
“After spending 14 years being looked at as a junkie, I realized I couldn’t live my life without using drugs and needed to seek help. While the stigma hurt, after two relapses, it led me to work harder in a more vigorous program. Since recovery, I’ve become a change advocate and hope to help others by letting them know that shame and guilt should not leave you stuck in an active addiction – there are people to walk you through the process and you are not alone.” - Ryan B.
“After losing his daughter and spending eight years in jail, my husband continued to deal with the stigma of addiction while looking for a job and building new relationships. No one would hire an “addict”, and my family members advised against my spending time with a “felon”. However, Jamey’s sobriety has allowed us to engage in a wonderful relationship, and the experience has taught us that people do not understand the disease of addiction. We should remind those suffering that they are not alone, and everyone should seek more information to decrease the judgement and understand the disease.” - Alicia K.
The creation of these testimonials was made possible with funding from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime & Delinquency. Paid for with Pennsylvania taxpayer dollars.
SHARE YOUR TESTIMONIAL
Do you have a story you are willing to share about how you or a family member were affected by the stigma associated with addiction? We’d love to hear it! In an effort to reduce stigma in Berks County, we are seeking local individuals in recovery or family members to share their own experiences. Selected testimonials will be shared on the SOS Berks website, either as brief written stories or (for willing individuals) as short videos.
Please note: Participants must reside or work in Berks County.
For questions or more information please contact Jennifer Kirlin at the Council on Chemical Abuse:
JKirlin@cocaberks.org or call (610) 685-4475