Patrick is a student in Kent State University's nursing program. He will graduate in May 2011, an RN. It doesn't stop there. He plans to specialize in the area of psychology and will proceed to earn a master's degree. He has a plan. He is content, happy with the place where he is, and eager to share his story with others. But 10 years ago was a very different story.
At age 16, Patrick entered a trade school program and worked in heating and cooling. He was injured on the job 10 years ago and was unable to work. The doctors prescribed Oxycontin for the pain. One thing led to another. As his body built up a resistance to the prescribed dosage, he needed more. Eventually he discovered heroin. It worked against the pain and didn't cost as much, unless you think about the effects of his addiction on his marriage.
He said his mother urged his wife to attend Al-Anon because Patrick's addiction was affecting her. But "Tina" denied having a problem. Patrick was the one with the problem, she said. The marriage disintegrated. Patrick said he has accepted his responsibilities.
He had tried numerous times to get himself clean. "You can't do it alone," he said. At first he thought he wasn't going to be "one of those people" who go to support meetings. Then he bumped into an old friend. "We used to use together." But his friend was clean, going to Narcotics Anonymous meetings. He invited Patrick to a meeting, said he'd help him, teach him what he needed to do. When he got home, he announced to his mother, "I finally have found hope."
He spent a month in detox at the Neil Kennedy Recovery Clinic in Youngstown. While he was there aftercare was lined up with Family Recovery Center (FRC).
"That was a huge blessing for me," Patrick said.
On leaving a detox program it is recommended that an individual in recovery attend 90 meetings in 90 days.
"I did more than that," he said. He attended every meeting associated with the Family Recovery programs and more. After three months he felt his foundation was set with a good support system. In January 2007 he started a job at the Salvation Army. He also signed up for classes at Kent State University.
Patrick is a proponent of faith-based recovery. "My pastors believed in me before I believed in myself," he said.
The pastors at his church approached him. They wanted to start a recovery ministry and asked if he would be interested in taking charge of it. The meetings take place at 6 p.m. Mondays at the House of Prayer in Calcutta.
"Recovery is a wonderful gift," Patrick said, "but salvation is where it's at."
Faith-based recovery begins with a willingness to come, to read the Big Book and start looking at the Bible. The goal is to find the God of each individual's understanding, their individual concepts of a Higher Power.
"You have to surrender your will. Do the next right thing every day. Don't be selfish. Think of others."
Patrick also is involved with Steps to Recovery which meets at 7:30 p.m. Saturdays at the Salvation Army in East Liverpool, adjacent to Kent State's East Liverpool campus.
The 12 Steps are a guide to living a spiritually healthy life, being unselfish, with humility, humility meaning that you recognize others' values, others' needs are as important as your own.
"You need to be as physically fit as you can, mentally healthy and spiritually fit," he said. "We serve a God of second chances." He encourages people with addiction or a substance abuse problem to go to a place like FRC and attend AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meeting. And while in rehab, line up the aftercare.
"These programs work," Patrick affirmed. "People can change. It's in a community's best interests to support these programs. The healthier the people are, the healthier the community. The more the community is aware, the better able the community is to help."
Happiness is being OK with where you are at this point in time, Patrick advised.
This month, National Drug Addiction Recovery Month, FRC has brought the stories of friends and neighbors in the community who have accepted responsibility for their actions, forgiven the past and moved forward in their lives with a better awareness of who they are, the tools to make wiser decisions, and to experience living happy and content.
For more information about substance abuse treatment, prevention and education programs, contact FRC at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, email@example.com. Some walk-in appointments are available by calling the agency.