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  October 16, 2009      
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Monroe Wesley Parrott

"My Story is about Healing."

I was a good kid growing up in Queens -never caused any trouble until I started sniffing heroin on my way to college in 1966 at the age of 17 - a habit that, at 27, put me behind prison walls. I thought I "just had a drug problem" so I tried to control it, to master it - no big deal, right? It wasn't until I met the Godfather of Recovery, Father Peter Young, that I learned the truth of my actions. He found me in jail, wearing a pair of green pants and said, "Monroe, you don't have a drug problem, you have a green pants problem. What did you do that got you in here, behind the walls, wearing those green pants?"

That was the first time I realized that I didn't do a very good job "controlling my drug problem." And it made sense! No one can "control a drug problem" because addiction is a chronic relapsing disease. Not only was I addicted to my heroin and cocaine (with the occasional drink and joint), but I was addicted to the criminal lifestyle and in jail for fraud and embezzlement because of my drug addiction. After all, I was "Money," a three-borough kind of guy: I used in Harlem (because the drugs were the best there), I lived in St. Albans, Queens; and I was born in Brooklyn to a school teacher and a social worker.

When Father Young walked into my jail cell, I had no hope, I had lost everything and I felt life was not worth living. But he saw something special in me - thought me to be an "educated" guy - and asked if I'd help him start an inmate-run program at Mount Macgregor Correctional Facility. I had been in a therapeutic community program at Samaritan Village and I applied that knowledge in helping to build the first inmate-run ASAT (Alcohol and Substance Abuse Treatment) program. I became the first Inmate Coordinator of the ASAT program for Mount Macgregor.

I worked hard to get out of prison on educational work release, got my CAC six months out of prison and have continued to work in the field of addiction for 25 years in different capacities while simultaneously carrying the message of hope behind the walls. Presently, I perform volunteer H&I (Hospitals and Institutions for Self Help Programs) work at the Rensselaer County jail. I retired from The New York State Department of Correctional Services a year and a half ago - from an inmate to a Senior Counselor, ASAT, to my current position as CASAC Assessor for the Albany County Department of Mental Health. Wow! That's God's healing all the way, a miracle for sure and I'm still pinching myself.

Everyday I carry the same message Father Young and the Self Help Program gave me: that recovery is real and it can save your life. FEEL, DEAL and HEAL. The Higher Power gave me a new spiritual assignment this past summer - a retreat supervised by The Wounded Healers for at-risk youth, a weekend of bonding for recovering men and boys. I continue to give back. I continue to heal. I continue to promote healing.

My name is Monroe, and my story is about healing. What's Your Story?


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