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Spotlight Campaign

Share Your Stories

Highlighting the voices that are seldom heard

Part of JWB Recovery's mission is to provide public education around drug and alcohol addiction. A crucial piece of this education is real-life experience. Through our Spotlight Campaign, we are working to share the stories of those who have been personally impacted by a loved one's drug or alcohol addiction. No matter how brief or in-depth that impact is, no matter when it occurred, no matter who it was that left an impact on you, we want to hear your story! Whether you want to share a very brief line via email, you want to set up a Zoom call with Mrs. Schuster to share your entire story, or you want your disclosure to fall somewhere in between, we want to hear from you! It is essential to share these stories to let others out there know that they are not alone. Please consider reaching out and sharing all or part of your story with us if you are comfortable with us sharing it here and on our social media platforms. Your stories can be completely anonymous, or you can submit a photo or video to go with them. All we ask if that you allow us to share your age and the state or country you live in, to highlight the incredible variety of individuals who are impacted by addiction. Please submit the waiver below and submit a contact form or email us at jwbrecovery2022@gmail.com to get started. 

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42 years old
Denver, CO

My first experience with addiction was my uncle. He was my best friend growing up. He was always there for me when I needed someone to talk to. I never knew he struggled with alcoholism until I was in my late teens, he was very good at hiding it from the kids. He was sober on again and off again for years. It came to a head in 1998 when he had spiraled so far that he decided to take his own life. It was so hard to reconcile and understand that it was out of my control. For years I struggled with wishing I was there for him more or that I could have stopped it from happening.

The next 2 decades that followed my unless death involved being in 3 different relationships with addicts. They ran the gambit of alcoholism to pills to Crack. It was very hard to watch people I lived with go through all of this but it was also hard being on the receiving end of their darkness and demons. It is so hard to say, ok, I have to walk away now for my safety and the safety of my children. I felt like I was giving up on them every time. In reality, none of them were ready for help and there was nothing else that I could do for them. I needed to be safe and more importantly, I needed my kids to be safe.

My most recent experience with addiction was losing my baby brother 2 1/2 years ago. We all knew that he drank but no one in our family knew how bad of a problem it was, or even that it was a problem. Covid hit my brother hard with the forced isolation and his driking spiraled out of control. By the time any of knew he had a problem, it was too late. He stopped drinking because of health issues but it was too little, too late and his body gave up on him. It was one of the most devastating losses of my life. He was a month shy of 35.

Addiction sucks, it sucks that it is so easy to get into and so, so hard to get out of. It is worth every step of the fight to get clean though, life is worth it. Loving someone with addiction is an incredibly difficult struggle as well. It hurts to watch someone you love struggle and it hurts to walk away. Sometimes, it's the only choice though. Thank you for reading.

I have been around addiction for my entire life, and it really never gets easier. From the time I was born, my dad and several other family members struggled on and off with drinking and abusing a myriad of other substances. My mom did a good job of shielding me from it until my parents separated when I was seven. After the separation, I would spend one week at my mom's house, and then one week at my dad's house, but he and his friends and brothers would frequently stay up late, making lots of noise, drinking and doing drugs. When they were drunk or high, it often led to a lot of physical altercations and really scary, uncomfortable situations that I had to bear witness to.

 

I didn't really realize how abnormal it was until one day, in eighth grade, I received a text from my dad's brother that was meant for his dealer. I told one of my friends about it, and her reaction made me realize that this is not the sort of thing that most kids experience. A few months after I received that text, that same uncle died in our house from an opioid overdose. This was the first major death I had been confronted with, and it absolutely wrecked me. My uncle was my best friend, and I always felt like he was one of the only people that I could really count on to defend me and always be there for me, no matter what. I spent so much time after his death feeling like it was my fault; I thought that if I would have just confronted him about that text and told him I knew he was doing drugs, that maybe he would have stopped, and he could still be here. 

There were a lot of seemingly small moments where my family's substance use really affected me. I could sit here and share all of those traumatic memories, but I'll just say that growing up in a home with regular drug and alcohol abuse leaves a lot of scars. 

When I was 22, I lost my uncle on my mom's side to complications from drinking too much, and all of those feelings from age 13 came rushing back. My uncle was one of the most fun, kind, caring people that I have ever known, and it broke my heart realizing that he had been struggling for so long, and none of us had any idea. We did not realize his drinking had become problematic and heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic until March of 2021 when he was hospitalized for the first time. He spent the next several months in and out of the hospital, and eventually lost his life in July. Watching him live in so much pain was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to witness. I also was racked with guilt for not spending more time with him. There were times when he invited me out to the bar with him, or to come over to his house and watch movies, and I declined because of my own health struggles. After he was gone, I spent so much time regretting those declined invitations and thought that if I had only gone over to his house one time, maybe I could have recognized the warning signs, and I could have stopped things from getting this bad. It has taken a lot of time, reflection, and mental health support to recognize that people will only accept help if they reach out for it, and no one could have seen the signs that he wanted so desperately to hide. 

The most recent extreme experience I have had with addiction is when my dad ended up at the same hospital where my uncle passed away, on the one-year anniversary of my uncle's death, for the very same reason. The doctors told us my dad had a 1 in 5 chance of surviving because the prolonged alcohol use had done so much damage to his body; I had never seen him look so weak, and I have never felt so afraid. By some kind of miracle, my dad was able to leave the hospital after a few weeks, and has since made a remarkable recovery. Despite the huge achievements he has made, I still spend every day feeling afraid that I'll lose him too. 

Addiction is a deeply brutal, unforgiving disease. It leaves its horrific mark on everyone it touches, and that mark never really goes away. Loving someone who is so deeply enveloped in a drug or alcohol addiction is one of the most complicated things I will ever do. It brings up so many feelings: guilt, anger, confusion, fear, sadness, and frustration, to name a few. I have finally realized that it is okay for me to set boundaries, it is okay for me to share with my loved ones how their addiction has impacted me and how it makes me feel, and it is okay for me to feel my feelings. It is a comfort to know that I am not in this alone, and that there are so many other people out there who understand these feelings, although I would not wish this struggle upon anyone. 

25 years old
Denver, CO
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