KYLE | Fort Collins, CO

“You can do this; you are capable.”

My earliest experience with addiction was with my mother. She drank heavily, eventually passing away from cirrhosis of the liver. I was in middle school, and her death hit me hard. That’s when I started experimenting with substances throughout middle school and high school. My substance use got more serious after high school. At the time, I just felt like I was living life and having fun. It didn’t seem out of the ordinary. But as I got into my late 20s, I realized I wasn’t reaching my goals or potential; I didn’t feel like I was doing the things I wanted to do in life. 

My addiction eventually led to incarceration. When I was first locked up, I thought I would just get out and keep doing exactly what I was doing. But having time to sit, I could reflect with a clear mind for the first time since I was a kid. And I just had this moment where I felt like, “I’m done with that.” 

My goals were something that helped guide me. I started small: my first goal was to stay out of prison. A friend reminded me, “You have to have something else. Your goal can’t just be not to come back.” And that’s when I started to believe I could do things. I could set goals and attain them. 

Today, I’m working on general studies for my undergraduate degree in social work, but the plan is to get a master’s degree in the same field. As a recovery navigator for a Colorado agency that serves people experiencing homelessness, my job is to offer recovery resources to those seeking change, as well as help curb recidivism by guiding people to education, employment, and housing resources.

I think some people don’t seek treatment for the fear of change. To those folks, I say, “have no fear”. A lot of people have left that life, myself included. You can do this; you are capable. Friends and family members of those struggling with addiction are victims too, and I try to remind them of that. So, I always try to offer as many resources and options as possible to those friends and family members. And I remind them that boundaries are healthy for themselves and their loved ones.