Recovery Is...

Recovery is a continuing ever evolving process for me. My recovery requires constant vigilance, conscious effort, and willingness to make changes and even take chances. Often, admittedly, it seems an overwhelming task, particularly so when I first set out on my path to recovery. But in order to try to thrive and lead a healthier, more fulfilling life and not merely exist, I must make the effort.

Those who have never had to contend with addiction will never know how difficult the process of changing one’s whole life around is. Old lifestyles and old habits don’t just die hard, they put up one hell of a fight. And even when they are dead, they manage to leave behind a trace that keeps us looking over our shoulders ever aware of the ghost of addiction waiting to be resurrected, counting on the memories of the good ‘ole days and complacency for us to invite it back in and relapse.

With support, however, the ghosts can be kept at bay and recovery possible. Without support, recovery is no more than an aimless child with good intentions. Recovery and support don’t simply complement each other but are dependent on each other. The support that I’ve received from family, friends, AA, doctors, and the staff at EPRA has been instrumental in my recovery. It is this support throughout my recovery that has helped me maintain my sobriety as well as help me through all the daily stressors and potential triggers including bad jobs, failed jobs, relocation, relationships, family and unemployment.

Since 2007, when I first came to EPRA, my recovery has never been without support. With the help of EPRA and VESID, in the fall of 2008 I went back to school. At 40 years old, having decades earlier sworn that I’d never go back to school, and not having been in a structured environment for years, I nervously and begrudgingly made the decision to go back. I knew that in order for me to make progress in my recovery and move on towards the future rather than continue to stagnate, I had to go back to school. In 2011, after two and a half years of class work (graduating with a 3.9 GPA) and passing six separate mandatory certification exams, I received my aircraft mechanics certificate.

After school comes work. My resume was in bad shape. I had graduated from EPRA in 2007 and contacted them in 2011 for help. They welcomed me back and helped me get my resume up to date. I landed a job in Florida in January 2012 but was fired after only eight months. All the while, however, I maintained my sobriety and I stayed in contact with my counselor at EPRA. They supported me even though I was a thousand miles away.

Back to New York in 2013 and as soon as I arrived I was walking through EPRA’s doors once again. After my Florida experience, my confidence was low. I doubted myself and it became obvious from my unsuccessful job search in Florida, that my interview skills were pretty poor. But with the support and encouragement of my counselor, I reworked my resume, practiced my interview skills and on October 1st, 2013, I’ll be relocated once again to start a new job.

My recovery has had its ups and downs. It is a work in progress. Often, admittedly, it’s difficult. But despite the challenges I’ve encountered along the way, with support and perhaps a little perseverance on my part, I’ve continued to work at my recovery and maintained my sobriety. As a result, I can say that only so long as I choose to continue working at my recovery, will my recovery continue to work for me.


The topic of what recovery means to me is so big it could mean, “put on a pot of coffee, and get comfortable, ‘cause this could take a while.” What I mean to say is that I could go on and on like the Everready bunny about what recovery means in my life.

Physically, recovery feels better than I thought it would. I thought I was going to always feel, in a word, dull–all the time. But the complete opposite is true. Instead, what I feel is vibrant.

Recovery also makes me feel blessed, special, as though I was singled out to go through everything I went through to get to where I am now, that somehow I had to go through it all to understand what living and being alive is.

Before recovery happened for me, I felt cursed, singled out for pain, anguish, and defeat. It was such a horrible existence, only surviving to get the next drink or drug. Yet now, I appreciate having gone through it all. I understand now why some of us had to die so that others could live. I was spared, saved. There is no doubt in my mind that it was an act of goodness by an extreme higher power that gave me another chance.

One of the vehicles sent to me was EPRA and their dream team staff. They became the images of recovery I had no problem looking up to and following. I discovered the joy of service and being service minded (see I warned you I can go on for days).

Let me sum this up with one last statement although, trust me, I have many. Recovery for me is finally getting that instant gratification I always chased. I feel it every time I take a breath clean and sober. I feel it as I live and enjoy life as I was intended to do, ever being mindful of this being a gift that I must give away in order to keep.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the blessed staff at EPRA because I could not have accomplished what I have without them. I ended up working on a contract assignment with a large and very well-known government agency. I became supervisor before completing even six months on the job; and today I have my own office with a door, not to mention a pretty decent salary with benefits. You guys certainly know what you’re doing. Again thanks for your guidance.


Recovery to me is freedom. The freedom to explore new possibilities and opportunities. The decision to come into recovery (and the process I am experiencing as a result) is the best decision I have ever made in my life. It holds me accountable for every decision I make. It allows me to focus on how I can help make people around me better and whole. It helps me to be responsible in my life. Before beginning my sober journey, I did not know that being responsible and accountable can be so rewarding. It is giving me endless opportunities in my professional life; and in my personal life, it allows me to meet, talk to, and learn from good, inspiring and encouraging people who are also traveling on their sober journeys.

EPRA laid the foundation for my learning how to be a worker among workers. I learned about showing up, about being punctual, about presenting myself professionally, and about preparing myself for the workforce. All I had to do was stay focused on my purpose, be open-minded to new ideas, and learn how to work well with others.

All of this has only benefitted me in both my professional and personal life. I am forever grateful for a place like EPRA, where people there are introducing recovering men and women into the world of endless opportunities.

D. L.