Your Story Matters. I am. We are. Recovery. blank
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  November 25, 2009            
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I would like to be added to
the recovery mailing list.

Derrick Staley

I am healthy.

I was raised with eight siblings in a single parent home in New Jersey. This was not a place where you want to raise your children. There were fights and drugs everywhere. I started smoking marijuana and cigarettes and drinking beer when I was only 10 years old.

My smoking and drinking habits increased to narcotics pills and acid, and then advanced to codeine pills. At this time, at only 17 years old, I was put on probation for shoplifting, tested positive for drugs and entered a two-year rehab program.

As I continued to improve, my grandmother contacted me told me that I could live with her, but only if I would give up the drugs and the lifestyle. Under my grandmother's care, I remained sober for eight years. On that eighth year, I took a devastating turn when she died of cancer. I just couldn't cope with her death and started drinking and drugging again.

I felt bad. I was hurting. She was everything to me. I couldn't cope with the stress. I didn't want to feel the pain. I wanted to commit suicide. For six years, I used cocaine. I even reported to my job while using. Eventually, I became homeless.

I was finally faced with an ultimatum to lose my job or to go into treatment. I made the decision to enter a 28-day program. The only that that kept me in treatment was the reality of being homeless again. I had nowhere to go. If I left, I would have had to go to a shelter and that scared me.

I finally realized that I was ready to get sober and do the right thing by any means necessary. So, I focused on my treatment plan, why I was there and how to get better. I also realized that I needed to relocate from New Jersey to Albany where I entered a residential treatment program.

With no money, I was forced to give up a three pack-a-day cigarette habit. Soon I began to overeat until I reached my highest weight of 240 pounds. To lose weight, I began to run which ultimately became my long-term passion. I was coughing and my chest was burning from smoking for so many years. Because of running everyday, I was able to quickly lose weight.

I began to slowly turn my life around. I completed treatment, bought a home, began college and started working. Eventually, I became a chemical dependency counselor.

To sustain my long-term recovery, I continue to run by entering into competitive races and by helping others who are struggling as runners. Now as an effective counselor, I can also help others struggling with their addiction.

I hope that my story will help to turn someone else's life around. Part of my job is to help and give back to people letting them know where I came from and where I am at today. I tell everyone that if I can do it, you can do it too.


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New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services
1450 Western Avenue, Albany, NY 12203
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