I was recently asked to answer a few questions for an intern who was working on a project. At first, they seemed to be basic questions… But the emotions evoked while answering them taught me a few things about myself.
Being a recovery coach with Plymouth County Outreach means I never have to “work” a day in my life because I love what I do. When I first gave recovery a try, about 7 years ago, I learned just how difficult it could be to navigate the complex system to find treatment. Today I have the privilege to be the person I needed for the individuals we work with. I can only imagine how comforting it must be to have a supportive guide/ally who knows exactly what they are going through. I act as a bridge/connection to treatment services and local resources. I aim to be a safe non-judgmental listening ear, a power of example, and a supportive companion who helps to relieve anxiety and fear. I get to walk alongside these individuals on their beautiful life-changing journey.
My biggest challenge thus far has been losing someone I worked with. I understand that it is a part of the disease, but it never gets any easier. But there are two things that have helped me cope with the loss. 1. My supervisor reminds me that I went out and did my part providing them information, support, and resources so they did not pass away without knowledge of a solution. And 2. I see continued successes everyday despite these rare circumstances.
I have seen the benefits of being present to support families with my own eyes. It is my belief that many of these loved ones have been suffering in silence because of the stigma associated with substance use disorder, and perhaps because they aren’t aware of the local support services and resources. So typically, when we conduct a follow-up with loved ones, they take advantage of the chance to finally open up and share without concern of judgement. Our support for the loved ones presents the opportunity for the family to recover together. We supply them with information on services for themselves, as well as ways to deal with their loved one still suffering from substance use disorder.
I absolutely love what I do as a PCO recovery coach. I stated before that my passion comes from being who I needed for my peers and in order to do that I am encouraged to be unapologetically myself. This is the only job I have ever had that I don’t feel the need to hide a huge part of myself or feel ashamed for my past. It’s the addict in me who found recovery that renders me uniquely qualified for this position. Through simply performing my daily responsibilities I get to help other people, just like me, stop using substances, lose the desire to use, find a new way to live, utilize their potential, achieve their goals, and love themselves. I am rewarded the opportunity to be a witness to, or even participate in their transformation. I couldn’t have imagined a more fulfilling occupation.