Candice, Durango, CO

“Supportive communities provide the fundamental connections all humans need. A beacon of hope, actively dismantling the barriers of stigma surrounding addiction.”

 I struggled with substance use in my teenage years. My use began as a tool for me to fit in, to feel like I belonged to a community. In time, it became a coping mechanism, often looking to alcohol when things were difficult, which caused a lot of negative impacts in my life. I found myself at age 26 going through the cycle of losing everything, and finally it came to the day where my partner set a boundary in our lives that I needed to get help, or I would be out of his life and out of a home. Around that time, I spotted a brochure for an employee assistance program in my company’s break room. This free resource provided me access to therapy, where I was encouraged to attend recovery support meetings.

Initially, I hesitated to attend a meeting in my small town because I was scared of being judged, but my partner accompanied me, and the overwhelming support and love I received from the group was amazing. All of my fear went away when I walked into the room. Everyone was genuinely happy to meet me.

After engaging in a traditional program of recovery for several months, I was inspired to explore the broader realm of recovery. I discovered a wonderful community that encouraged me to define recovery for myself and forge a path fit for me. Around this time, the loss of a close friend to an overdose deepened my commitment to the recovery community, both for my own healing and to support others. Discussing loss and working to shift the stigma and language around addiction became crucial components of my recovery journey. My partner was an incredible support system—he gave up alcohol before I did, supported me when I had a return to use, and was very patient with me.

Today, I remain deeply involved in the community as a leader in a Recovery Community Organization. One of my favorite things about my recovery is the accountability I developed in the process. I love being a person that my family, friends, and neighbors can count on. I follow through when I commit to being there for someone. I’m responsible for my actions. I am honest with myself and the people around me. Most importantly, I am accountable to myself, knowing my capabilities and limits, yet pushing my comfort zone to continually grow as an individual and a community member. This dedication isn’t just about supporting others; it’s the fuel that moves me forward, sustaining my ambitions and propelling me along the path of recovery.