In an effort to advocate for people who use drugs to be treated with respect and dignity so that they may find a new way of life, Voices of Hope is sharing real stories of real people in recovery. We do recover, with help, support and a way out.
Hello my name is Aaron Wright.
That is a name which I identified as a person, a human being. But to the contrary, I have not felt as if I was a person, even a human being, for over 25 years of my life. You see, I am dual diagnosed, which means I struggle with mental health and drug addiction. I always felt as if I just acquire: a job, my own car, my own apartment, a savings account, a significant other, even a family. That I would be “normal” in the eyes of society, and be accepted as the “same”. My illnesses only allowed me to accept myself in the degree of outside validations. To my surprise, I did obtain a: job, car, apartment, bank account, significant other, and even a family while dealing with my illnesses. But this only filled the shallow parts of who I was a person, a shell of a human being.
Not until I was living on the streets of Kensington, Philadelphia: unemployable, carless, homeless, poor, alone, a dead beat father, and devoid of any hope for life; was I able to actually understand the equation for life never included Aaron. Because Aaron seemed to be a fictional character, a chameleon if you will, in a non-fictional reality.
On a very cold day in Phila on January 2nd 2015, while sitting on frozen concrete with one shoe, hungry, hopeless, lifeless. I was faced with a choice: continue with this fictional existence hoping one day, praying one day I will won’t wake up and the world would be a better place. Or get up for the upteenth time and change. The latter was considered by the 5 inpatient treatment facilities, 3 methadone clinics, 2 suboxone clinics, 2 state mental health facility stays, and a culmination of over 10 years of imprisonment with no success.
They say when all possible conclusions are improbable, then the probable conclusion must be the impossible. And with I entered recovery one more time. But this time it was different. This time Aaron entered recovery. I did what Aaron needed to do for himself, not seeking outside validation for a shallow shell of humanity. Through a 12-step fellowship, SMART Recovery and a very wide support network I became an individual; an individual with dignity, pride, and most of all love. And with this process I became: employable, with my own car, in my own home, a savings account, with a significant other and our family of 6. But most of all what I truly got was me, Aaron, something I struggled to find for 42 years. And for that I am eternally grateful for that process.