Category: Peer Support
Posted on November 11th, 2019
Junkie. Addict. Homeless. Selfish. Worthless. Liar. Disgrace. Soulless. These are just a small sample of the various descriptions I have been called during the 17 years I spent in active addiction. I remember doing my best not to look into anyone’s eyes unless it was absolutely imperative.
At this point, the topic of drug addiction and the most recent byproduct (the opioid epidemic) are being spoken about with the utmost urgency. People just like the person that I used to be are dying left and right. When we are blessed enough to stay alive for any length of time at all, we cause total turmoil and chaos on anyone we touch.
Is this because we are awful people with no conscience? Not at all. It is because our brains get hijacked chemically, and we become locked and loaded on the idea that either this time will be different, or that we need these substances to live.
The issue with this used to be that society at large believed that this was a moral dilemma or a character flaw. Imagine being in active addiction and hearing all of the negative terms and biases used to describe your lifestyle. I will fill you in if you are having trouble: It is a horrible and hopeless feeling that continues to deteriorate all self-worth and dignity.
The beautiful part of the description listed above is that there are those of us that are blessed enough to have lived through this awful disease, and we have found various types of long-term recovery. The beautiful part of recovery is that it allows for a rebirth of peace, passion and productivity.
Does recovery erase all wrongs and paint a white canvas? Absolutely not, nor is it designed to. However, all types of recovery encourage anyone engaged in this process to eagerly seek to inform, educate and inspire hope in the lives of sick and suffering addicts, as well as the rest of the human race.
It is through this process that I found my passion of working with those that have substance use disorder. I am blessed enough to be able to meet them directly in various emergency rooms, and offer them solutions to their current circumstances.
When I got clean, I never would have dreamed that I could become a Tennessee Recovery Navigator, because the program wasn’t even in existence. Thanks to the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse utilizing a grant housed with Buffalo Valley Inc., I have been blessed with a career in which I meet people at their weakest and watch the ones that are willing start to rebuild their lives. I continue to receive blessings on a daily basis as a result.
The deadly nature of the opioid epidemic has brought renewed attention to the substance abuse problem in our country. Substance abuse and addiction are not new problems. Individuals in need of treatment continue to encounter barriers for various reasons from lack of insurance coverage to stigma. These individuals — someone’s son or daughter, possibly a mother, father, brother or sister — need our support on their journey toward healing. A community with knowledge and compassion can prevent future generations from suffering this same affliction.
Josh Floyd is Tennessee native who suffered 17 years in active addiction and is now a Tennessee Recovery Navigator, a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist, and is under licensure supervision to obtain his Licensed Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor credentials.
Originally published in the Daily News Journal, Murfreesboro.