Positive Change in Action:
Relapse is the part of the recovery process that nobody really wants to accept because it’s a scary reality. No one wants to think about the fact that when you’re in recovery from using drugs or alcohol, relapse can happen.
When it happened to me last year, I was crushed. I come from a family where my father has been a drug dealer for over 30 years, and my mother was an addict. During a very difficult time with my family, my father offered me drugs and because I was emotionally vulnerable, I relapsed.
I’d worked so hard to get away from all that and to change my life. I’d moved up the ladder at ASCNYC from a Peer Educator to a staff position. So for me, relapsing felt like self-sabotage. I really beat myself up emotionally thinking about how badly I’d messed up. I was sure that my life and career were completely over. I was at the edge of a dangerous downward spiral.
But ASCNYC stood by me. They told me, “We’re still here for you in every way.” They called and checked in on me. They offered services and support. ASCNYC gave me a second chance when I needed it most.
I completed rehab. I joined ASCNYC’s recovery support group, which keeps me grounded. I re-engaged with ASCNYC’s onsite mental health counseling services—my backbone of support. I took a three-day training to become a certified Peer Intern in ASCNYC’s Peer Training Institute. I’m joining a life-skills workshop and getting all kinds of other support.
ASCNYC welcomed me back with open arms. They told me, “You know, Dennis, the possibilities are still endless for you, depending on how you view your situation and the actions you choose going forward.” ASCNYC really boosted me up, and that’s what this organization is all about: Second chances. New beginnings. The opportunity to take back my power and learn from my mistakes.
The truth is, for most people, relapse is part of the recovery process. Being honest and telling my story is part of my recovery process. I’m not ashamed of my relapse because I can pinpoint why it happened and I’m more conscious and self-aware about my relapse triggers. With support from ASCNYC, I’m focusing on what’s most important: staying clean, taking my HIV medications, participating in healthy relationships, and respecting myself and my body. That’s what this New Year is all about for me.
—Dennis, ASCNYC Peer Educator