So I started shooting heroin around 13. In 2001 I was introduced to oxycontin. By 2002 I was doing heroin. I started taking pills and before I knew it I was addicted to them. My first experience with drugs altogether was a little prescription from my doctor. After a while pills were just too expensive and too hard to come by and then obviously heroin became the easier target for me to get. As soon as I experienced heroin there was — there was no turning back. That was my escape from the world. I remember doing heroin and thinking like this is — this is it. Like I will never do anything else. This is, you know, this is all I ever want to do. That was it. Everything consisted of getting that drug. Risky behavior, jail, a lot of incarcerations. It affected everything: it affected my relationships with my family, my relationships with my peers. It started being a way of life. It was — it was a lifestyle that I had created for myself. I’ve had eight incarcerations. I used while I was pregnant. I was left all alone. I mean really just started living at like an animalistic level. Overdosing became part of it. I counted 30 that was with narcan. At one point it was — it was kind of like I wanted to die because it would have been easier on everybody — including me. My name is Matt and I’m a person in long-term recovery. And what that means is I haven’t used a drink or a drug since November 9th 2009. I’m Alex. I’ve been in long-term recovery since September 9th 2016. August 11 2016. January 19 2010. September 3rd 2004 November 4th 2013 January 11 2014 April 30th 2017 I started listening to people that were real about their stories and raw about their experience. And I met a gentleman named Chris who I kind of listened to what he did and watched the way he acted. I work at a treatment center and like I see people from a recovering community coming in on a daily basis and like sit down with somebody and they have that truth discussion right. I mean, for the first time that other person sees that somebody else understands exactly what they’re talking about. And as soon as they see that, something clicks and then recovery begins man. So when I met Dan we just kind of sat down. We discussed the truth. Dan had reached out to me after you know after I got clean and I was out of rehab and said “Hey, look, I’m starting this thing. I’m doing this 100%. I’d like you to help out.” I met this guy, Cecil, and I mean literally this guy will come and pick me up every day from treatment at 5 o’clock and he introduced me to recovery, showed me what it was about, introduced me to people that I’m still friends with today, and really just showed me that there was a life beyond getting high. You know, he says that I have a role in his recovery but he has a role in my recovery as well. And I told him I said “You know what? If I can do it, you can do it.” And we formed a relationship at that point. Now coming in and sitting down with me and just I mean, we would listen to music and just talk. For the first time somebody that understood my pathway was there. He showed me what it was like to be there for somebody else. You know, OK, I’m done at work at this time I’m going to pick you up and I’m gonna take you here. There are some people whose spirits we just we just connect to. I think the recovery community is booming. I think the biggest thing for me is that, like, I finally found like a place that I feel a part of something. I think the best way I’ve ever heard it described it’s like a shipwreck right? Like everybody you know on the shipwreck you survive right? And everybody goes their separate ways after but like you put them in a room together it’s like “Oh my god, it’s so good to see you.” “It’s so good to see how you’re doing.” You know what I mean? That love is something that you’re — it’s very rare to find in other places. And that’s something that just exists with us. The fact that there were people there when I came in, to help me is what makes it important for me to stay. Because if we all got better and left, well, who would be there for the ones that are coming in next? For somebody that’s just coming in we are imperative. I mean, we set the example. So that’s why it’s important when you’re new, coming in the doors, is to sit down close this, open these, and sit and listen and watch. And you’ll find somebody in there that makes sense to you and that’s who you gravitate to. In our process of struggling there’s been one or two people that were there for us, that loved us until we can learn how to love ourselves, and what we do is we try to pay it forward by doing the same thing. The more I do for others, the more it fills my spirit and the more I stay connected, the more it keeps me grounded, and keeps me in the recovery community. Life is really a blessing, right, because I mean after sitting and thinking about all the things that I’ve been through and all the different situations that I’ve been around, I shouldn’t be here. I feel like this is my purpose. I feel like I’m alive for a reason. I dodged many bullets and I’ve been kept alive because of the fact that I’m meant to be here to inspire and create change for someone else. There is hope and recovery is possible. The big thing is that we do recover. We do recover. We do recover. We do recover. We do recover. We do recover.