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At the York Hospital Recovery Center, we respect everyone who comes to us for help, as many are working toward a fresh start in life. These are their stories. We’ve changed their names to respect their privacy, but we hope that by reading them you’ll see how lives can change with compassionate, expert treatment.

Alicia’s story

I was a three-star athlete. I did well in school until my junior year. I played soccer, ice hockey, and lacrosse. By my senior year, though, I was drinking and smoking pot heavily. One day I took Vicodin. It was better than I had ever felt with alcohol or pot. It took me completely out of myself, and that’s what I wanted.

When I was 21, I was arrested for operating a car under the influence and lost my license. I was in an abusive relationship. I got evicted from my apartment. Then my mom helped me get into rehab. Eventually, I found an apartment, got one-one-one counseling, and everything was good. I stayed sober for four years. I was doing great — I had a job, was going to school, had a good relationship, and had connected with my family again.

Even though I was sober, my mental health always played a big role in my addiction. My mood was up and down. I felt out of control. I wanted to die. I consciously decided to use heroin.

In May 2015, I overdosed three times. I was in a psychosis — due to mental health and drug use. When I was arrested for burglary, I went to jail. But it absolutely saved my life. It took the drugs away from me. I was in a safe place. One night, I got on my hands and knees. I was scared that someone would walk by and see me praying and make fun of me. But in desperation, I asked God for help.

The next day, I got health insurance, got accepted into a drug and alcohol treatment program, and went into rehab for nine months. I learned skills to handle my mental health and substance abuse. I got my family back, made friends with other sober people, and I found a true friend for the first time in my life.

Now I’m on probation. With help from my counselor Sally, I learned the skills to continually stay sober. To make good decisions… to boost my self-esteem… to find sober activities to keep me safe and healthy.

When you are using, your whole life is falling apart. Support from counseling, family, sober friends — all played a big part in my recovery. I have been sober for two and a half years. And I have never felt better. Life is good.

Colleen’s story

I had a brain that would never shut off at bedtime. The only way I could quell that anxiety was to drink. I’d watch the clock, and when it was 4:59 p.m., I would get butterflies in my stomach, knowing I could start drinking. It was the one thing I looked forward to. By 9:00 p.m. I would be passed out. I’d wake to find a blanket over me and knew it was my daughter who had covered me. I am a blackout drinker.

Ironically, it was a bacterial strep infection in my leg, which could have taken my life, that saved my life. Because it got me to stop drinking. At that point I was literally drinking to stay alive. When I didn’t have alcohol in my system, my hands would shake so badly I had to drink before I could even bring a fork to my mouth or put on my mascara.

At work I passed out cold at my desk. I woke up to find my boss standing over me, shaking her head, saying, “Get out of here now!” Nothing mattered to me at this point. And when my husband asked me to leave, I was relieved. I had no one bugging me about my drinking anymore.

I didn’t care about anything then, only when and how much I could get my hands on. I grew up in a very privileged home, yet now I’d lost my home, my marriage, my family, and my job. I was homeless, living in my car for six months.

The counselors at York Hospital helped me understand my disease, deal with everyday life, and not feel ashamed that I have this disease. It’ll be eight months since I’ve been sober. And this is honestly the first time in years that I am truly happy. I thought the best I could ask for was to be content. And last summer, for the first time in years, I had a belly laugh.

Dave’s story

Recovery has forced me to fundamentally change the person I was when I became addicted to alcohol and other drugs. I had to become rigorously honest with myself about who I had become and how that impacted my life as well as those who cared about me. I had to take responsibility for my behaviors and how they had impacted the lives of others.

Addiction was my disconnect from life. As I move ahead in recovery, I reconnect with myself, those around me, and the constructive possibilities for my living as part of something greater than myself. Maintaining connection with other sober persons, both peers and professionals (such as those one finds at the Recovery Center), is the most important support one can have. Others on the recovery journey cared for me when I could not care for myself. They showed me that I was a “sick” person rather than a “bad” person. They gave proof that change could happen then offered hope, faith, and guidance.

Today, I am a better person than I’ve ever been. I show up for life and live fully.

My heart is open — I can pass on to others what was so freely given to me.

I accept myself as I am.

I accept others as they are.

I accept life as it is.

I give what I can to help others.

I trust in the goodness of benevolent spiritual powers, and to an underlying and abiding purpose to living — which is simply, loving.