JANICE | Denver, CO

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and don’t be afraid to offer it.”

When I was a kid, I looked different from everyone else. They made fun of me, and I spent a lot of time alone. When I got to high school, I wanted to fit in, so I started smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, and eventually using drugs. Over time, in my 20s, 30s, and 40s, I struggled deeply with addiction to crack cocaine. I experienced homelessness and loneliness, and spent time in and out of the judicial system. 

A few things helped my recovery journey. A handful of people in the judicial system cared about me and showed me kindness; some believed in me so much that I didn’t want to let them down. But more than that, it was my spirituality that rescued me. My relationship with God saved me. He was there for me whenever I was in my lowest moments, struggling with addiction, or feeling like I might give in to temptation. I felt as though He made changes in my life and provided guidance behind the scenes to help me find recovery.

Today, I’m a medical case coordinator, speaking in jails to other people struggling with addiction. I use my spirituality and lived experiences to share empathy and kindness with those in need. In recovery, it’s crucial to re-learn what you like. Recovery doesn’t have to be dull. We go to movies, to the park, and have sleepovers. I love to roller-skate—and I don’t mean to brag—but I’m pretty darn good. 

When I speak to those still struggling, I try to cover those essential bases. I find out if they have a place to stay and find them one if they don’t. I ask them if they need a job and help them find work. To families with someone struggling, I say, “Call Janice. I’ll help them!” I really will. But if they can’t call me, I would tell parents and even those struggling that we don’t get high alone and cannot recover alone. So, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and don’t be afraid to offer it.