Local Organization Works to Clear Stigma of Addiction Recovery
A local organization is using education and awareness events to celebrate people in the community who are going through long-term recovery in addiction and mental health issues. Our Anna Thomas has the story.
Those fighting addiction and mental health issues face many challenges within themselves and the community, especially when battling long-term recovery, according to Justin Johns, substance abuse assessment specialist and mental health clinician at Missouri State University.
“For some individuals in recovery is the stigma that not many people make it and if I don’t make it that means I’m either flawed or a failure in my recovery, and often times, that does lead a person to never come back into recovery,” Johns said.
But David Stoecker, founder of A Better Life in Recovery, or BLiR, has been in recovery for two decades and says in his organization he wants to help others do the same.
“I feel that I’m living proof that, you know, no matter how far down you get that you can come back,” Stoecker said.
Stoecker’s addiction led him in and out of recovery.
“Within a one year period, I ODed and died three times. I had a drug deal that went south and one of my friends got shot in the leg, I shot a kid in the shoulder. And that was the first time,” Stoecker said.
The first time he went into recovery. He was able to go to college then, where he slipped back into addiction. That time, he says, it was God who brought him out. He finished college, knowing he wanted to be a substance abuse counselor and form this organization.
“Part of this is us coming out of the shadows and into the forefront, saying ‘listen, this is who I used to be, this is who I am now, look at what I do now,’” Stoecker said.
Johns says the recovery process is different for everyone, but there is always the ability to stay with it.
“This isn’t a character flaw. It’s not part of a person’s definitive character that they are this type of person. With the support of a community, of a family, and of a friend, that recovery is a possibility. Everybody kind of deserves that opportunity,” Johns said.
A Better Life in Recovery's goal is to bring those in recovery together, to not only support each other, but to work on projects that clear stigmas in the community.
“You know, they see that we strip resources from the community, and part of what we’re doing is being a resource for the community, giving back to the community that we live in,” Stoecker said.
One of their upcoming events is this Saturday, May 3rd. People in recovery will be working to clean up the fields at Cowden Elementary as well as painting their playground.
The organization is flourishing with the help of many sponsoring organizations. Click here for more information on BLiR’s upcoming events or planning meetings.
For KSMU News, I’m Anna Thomas.