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March 9, 2007

I love what I do here at ASC. When I see the people in our program really get what we're talking about, that motivates me. When I see clients who were once sitting in ASC's waiting area all day go through ASC's three-day harm reduction training, then Safety Counts, then our Peer Recovery Education Program (PREP), and finally, our peer-run HIGH On Recovery Program, I feel good about our work. Our clients come in off the streets and ASC helps them change their lives.

I first came to ASC in 2000 as a Training Coordinator for PREP, ASC's 8-week core peer skills development training. Last year, I became the Coordinator of ASC's HIGH On Recovery Program (HIGH stands for How I Got Help). Through trainings, support groups, social events, and acupuncture-detox, HIGH On Recovery helps people stay on track with their recovery from substance abuse. Peer Educators who are in recovery lead the program, so it's a very participatory service model.

Most of our members are in early recovery. Some have used drugs since they were ten years old and kept on using for 40 years. They stopped growing at the age of ten—emotionally, spiritually, socially. They stopped living life as other people do. Now, they've quit drugs, they're back in the world, and they don't know what to do. They have to learn how to get along, how to keep a schedule, how to handle their relationships. We help with all that in many different ways.

Since all kinds of feelings come up in early recovery, we offer small, intimate, specialized support groups. The groups give participants a place to share their feelings, which in turn helps them cope. We offer an alternative for people who don't feel comfortable with Narcotics Anonymous or the 12-step model. We also provide our members with other services they need to get their lives back on track, like HIV testing, the clothing bank, the food pantry, mental health counseling, and the medical van.

Like all ASC Peer Educators, HIGH On Recovery members set personal development goals and then work on reaching those goals. If someone's goal is to learn how to type, we provide classes in our Cyber Lab. Some people want their GED, others want to work, so we help them take the steps to achieve these goals. Our members often come to us with very low self-esteem. But they've got a lot of street skills and we help them transform those skills into something positive.

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