Updated: Jun 10
James Fox is a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist at CARES.
Are you looking for support in your recovery? Call James Today 973-830-0874.
OPIATES ARE NO JOKE
I have heard “It’s only one pill” time and time again. The reality is a person that thinks or acts this way is playing with fire and the longer you play with fire the higher your chances are of getting burnt. Opiates are no joke. And to put that kind of trust in your dealer is a terrible decision. Often times pill pressers are being purchased online, synthetic opiates are being pressed and sold as “Oxy’s” or “Perks” but it’s really fentanyl. If you are not getting a script from a doctor you literally have no idea what is in the pill you just purchased.
TAKING OWNERSHIP OF MY OWN RECOVERY WAS LIFE CHANGING
I was lucky enough to have friends get through injuries and accidents where opioids were used in treatment and they were successful. They came out without a dependency. My experience was different, because I am a person with substance use disorder. My drug of choice was alcohol but that was only after the pain pills, weed and other substances ran out. But I had to take ownership. Taking ownership of my own recovery was life changing.
I BELIEVE IN ABSTINENCE
I have come to the realization that people, in general, are not educated on substance use disorder. For example, many people older than me claim that legalizing marijuana will increase harder drug use. In my experience injuries in which doctors give out opiates to completely numb the pain is FAR more dangerous than someone smoking legalized marijuana. That said I believe in abstinence. But we have to take a look at the driving force behind this opioid epidemic and that clearly is coming over prescribing and pill abuse.
As far as overdose, the general public needs to realize that an addict does not want to be dope sick. The drug addict uses to feel better and to relieve withdrawal symptoms but overdoses are so common because fentanyl is that much stronger than heroin.
DEATH? JAIL? INSTITUTIONS? OR RECOVERY?
I have family members, friends and loved ones battling addiction. I am a person that lives a life in recovery and have reaped the benefits of it. I work as a certified peer recovery specialist because of both my lived life experiences and seeing the struggles some of my family and friends have battled. I want to help, I want to show a life in recovery is possible. They say every person with substance use disorder affects a minimum of 7 people in the circle. Those 7 people are now living with the worry and burden of having an active addict or alcoholic in their life. And what’s next? Death? Jail? Institutions? Or Recovery?
WE ARE FAILING PEOPLE POST TREATMENT
I am not 100% sure of the ideal solution to the opioid epidemic but I do know the way we are handling the epidemic is not working. Body slamming people into rehab does not work. We need to meet people where they are at and then we can begin the process possibly making changes. Long term stints in rehab have proven to not work because recovery is on a continuum.
Where we are failing people is POST treatment. What are we doing after detox? What are we doing after inpatient? What are we doing after IOP? We need to make our focus on the AFTERCARE. Peer work, continued counseling and meetings are what will keep people in recovery. That should be our ultimate goal.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOURSELF AS A TEENAGER?
SLOW DOWN. Impulsive decisions are not going to get you anywhere. Have PATIENCE. Molding yourself as a person is going to take time. Change is ok!
A SOBER LIFESTYLE REALLY IS A GIFT
I really thought drugging and drinking were just a way of life. I thought that everyone drank to the point of intoxication and taking drugs on the daily was just how everyone behaved. I considered people that didn’t live this way very boring and what’s the point of even living if you had to do it sober. But I have had an extreme paradigm shift.
My bottom was a physical bottom. My decision was essentially made for me as my body had already begun to shut down. The major motivating factor to stay sober was knowing I never have to feel that way again. I am avoiding major consequences by staying sober. My life is so much better today than it was 3 years ago chasing drugs and a drink.
I now know living a sober lifestyle really is a gift and I need to protect it.
NONE OF THIS HAPPENS WITHOUT MAINTAINING SOBRIETY
My sober date is 2/26/16 and the past 3 years my life without a drink or a drug has been extremely positive. Decision making has improved. Workforce opportunities improved and changed for the better. I am continuing my education on substance use disorder and counseling in order to help others. But today none of this happens without maintaining sobriety.
HAVE PATIENCE WITH YOURSELF
I would like my family to know that I tried to make a difference. I try to make a difference in my own life, my children’s lives and my peers’ lives. Simple advice would be, do what you love and love what you do. Have hobbies, enjoy the outdoors and spend time with your loved ones. Have patience with yourself and accept change because it’s literally the only constant in life.
NOTHING CHANGES IF NOTHING CHANGES
Nothing changes if nothing changes. If you have had enough there is an easier way. But you have to take the initial leap. Trust people who have walked in your shoe and gotten clean. Stay open minded and remain teachable. You are definitely not going to love everything you hear but take what you need to hear and leave the rest. Surround yourself with sober people, build a sober network. Get involved with meetings (any kind! AA, NA, ALL Recovery and SMART) Find a pathway that works for you!
I STRIVE FOR A SIMPLER LIFE
Lately I have been thinking about my grandfather a lot. He was a simple family man, an immigrant from Ireland. He taught me so many simple important things, like how to tie my shoes and how to make breakfast in the morning. But he was a man of faith and family. He also had his struggles with alcohol but he was able to overcome them. I strive for a simpler life modeled after my Grandpa Gallagher.