Recovery Month September 2022
National Recovery Month educates others about recovery from mental health, substance use, and co-occurring disorders, the effectiveness of treatment and recovery support services, and that recovery is possible. All of us, from celebrities and sports figures to our co-workers, neighbors, friends, and family members, throughout our lives have experienced peaks and valleys, both big and small. And, with strength, support and hope from the people we love, we are resilient.
By asserting that “Recovery is for Everyone,” we reduce the stigma surrounding people with substance use or mental health disorders, especially when complicated by oppressive forces like white supremacy, systemic racism, punitive criminal justice systems, and policy that excludes less privileged people. Recovery is always person-first. “Meeting people where they are at” translates into acknowledging their unique experiences and needs, including people of different cultures, identities, backgrounds, and communities.
Region 7 Recovery Stories
In honor of Recovery Month, Mid-America ATTC is highlighting recovery stories in our region 7. We asked two individuals to share their recovery story focusing on the theme, how have I given back to the community through my recovery?
We are also highlighting Cameron DuBay's, The Sobriety Society podcast.
I am Jennifer Wolfe. I began my journey after the birth of my youngest child. I was going through a lot of undiagnosed pain; my doctor treated the pain with narcotic pain meds. I quickly starting using a 30 day supply in 3-4 days. This led me to purchase additional pills from a street level. I knew I needed help; however, I could not find any when I reached out. I decided to handle it myself and detoxed for a week. After the pills were gone and I felt better, I realized I still had emotional pain that was not addressed. It wasn't long before I got illicit drugs from someone I had purchased pills from before. At that time, my life spiraled completely out of control. I went from "soccer mom" to homeless, petty criminal, doing anything to support my drug use. I got to a point where I was all-inclusive with my using any drug, any type of consumption. I was in and out of jail regularly; I'd been separated from both of my children. I, at one point, overdosed and was pronounced dead. I still kept using without missing a beat. In 2015, my boyfriend died from a heroin overdose, and I was completely alone. I was lost and shattered into a million pieces and lying on the floor in a suicide watch cell in the county jail. I was facing a lot of prison time when I decided it was time I take control of my life and fight for myself. After the drugs were out of my system and I began getting some clarity. I decided to take full advantage of any self-help groups and counseling available to me. I did end up going to prison and was given a chance at parole. I had nowhere to go. I had no family here and no money to get in somewhere. I did find a place in KCMO and was given a chance to get my freedom. After getting dropped off at the Greyhound bus station with nothing but the clothes given me and a brown envelope with a few letters in it and a drop of hope, I fought for my life. I worked the program to the fullest possibility. I got a job as a server, but I knew there was more for me. I began networking with people in the recovery community, which led to working in a treatment center. I was given a promotion and then heard about a program that helps the most vulnerable population, overdose survivors! Since being in recovery, I have been privileged to help others with access to Narcan. I connect people to services they need, whether it's detox, treatment, sober living, or just let them know I am there and I care. I have been a guest speaker at multiple events and have touched the lives of others struggling in all age ranges and all walks of life. There is nothing as fulfilling as to watch the light of hope come back on in someone's eyes.
On October 23, 2021 I will be celebrating 6 years of recovery. For anyone reading this, I want you to always remember "NO MATTER WHAT" No matter what happens, no matter what difficulty arises, you are worth it, do not give up. This life in recovery surpasses all I could have ever imagined.
These days I proudly introduce myself with a smile," Hello, I'm Jeff Small." It wasn't too long ago I prayed no one recognized me because my name meant shame, hurt, and failure.
In the early 2000's I could do no wrong as I lived the good life, or rather the" high" life. 2 Emmy Awards, VIP Invites, and rockstar treatment everywhere, plus I had a sweet gig anchoring the news on the local NBC television station. I worked hard, playing even harder, becoming a fixture on the nightlife scene 6-7 days a week.
The nights didn't stop at bar closing because after-hours usually came next until 6 or 7 in the morning. I was introduced to some of the hottest men and women offering more booze and cocaine on a silver platter during those late nights. I grinned and declined, almost disgusted at the idea of me doing drugs.
That lasted a while until perhaps my curiosity got the best of me, and I figured it wouldn't hurt to see what coke was all about. The experiment quickly turned into my obsession and my addiction.
Within a year or two, the wheels began to fall off my ride to stardom. I was doing coke before work, at work, oversleeping my own newscast, then losing the dream job altogether.
I found meth shortly after, and as promised, sex with meth was amazing. I could party longer and harder and forget about all my problems. The party and play lifestyle were fun and exhilarating but dangerous, dirty, and riskier than ever. A downward spiral came with some car accidents, disgusting dope houses, and my arrest in 2018. Not just any arrest, but a meth-related arrest for all to read on the front page of the local newspaper. My arrest was a top story on tv, radio, and just about everywhere.
The embarrassment brought me to my knees, made me ashamed to be seen in public or answer my phone; even looking in the mirror was a nightmare. I felt dead inside and wanted to end it all to stop the pain.
I prayed over and over until God told me this was not the final chapter of my life. I began dreaming about a comeback story, a way to somehow use the notoriety that landed me on the front page for something that could save a life. I would flip the script from a fall from grace to a story of redemption, hope, and a will to never give up.
It took drug court, counseling, sacrifices, and much more to make my dream come true after 2 years. I wasn't running or hiding anymore, ashamed to be me. I reached out to reporters, editors, and anyone with a listening audience. I wanted to tell my story, my truth that could maybe keep someone alive, steer someone down a different path, and show compassion and dignity. My journey is an uphill battle I refuse to lose...while I move forward one day at a time.
The Sobriety Society is a podcast about addiction, sobriety, substance use, recovery, and mental health. We're here to share our stories with our experience of addiction and how we have overcome our addiction, and the steps we took to maintain sobriety. My goal is to get the word out and hopefully help or save someone's life by getting my story and other people's stories out there for the listeners.
You can find this podcast on Spotify and Apple Music Podcast.
- Click here to download the 2022 Recovery Month Toolkit
- Visit Faces and Voices of Recovery
- Visit the Peer Center of Excellence