The Power of Stories

When Tony walked into Cedar House years after completing treatment, he realized that his new perspective on life could save lives. He remembered the power of the testimonials he heard as a client and knew he should share his. What he didn’t realize was just how powerful telling his own story could be. After recounting all he had been through over the years, Tony said, “Thank you for the opportunity to tell you my whole story. I’ve never actually just gone through from top to bottom and told my full story. Wow! It’s just awesome to think how much this recovery thing really works. It’s pretty amazing!”

Think about that. Tony credits the stories he heard at Cedar House with planting the seed for his recovery. For the first time, he felt that he wasn’t alone in his battle with addiction. And, now, the telling of his own is providing staying power for his recovery.

Tony’s relationship with meth was unrivaled in his late 20s. He said the first time he tried it, “It was like love at first sight. I knew we were going to have a relationship.” He felt that the chemicals in meth were his companion, giving him courage and defining who he was. After using only on weekends for a few months, he found his own dealer and became a daily user. When he found out it could be smoked, that was it. He said, “I went from being a social person to a recluse. I quit culinary school and spent a year using.”

Fortunately for Tony, he had friends who recognized he needed help. They came to his home and told his mother the situation. She was devastated, but together they helped him get into an outpatient program. For four years, he tried unsuccessfully to quit on his own or attempt different outpatient programs, but continued using during that time.

In 2007, Tony was living in his car and deep in his addiction. He was frequently sick and barely remembers how he came to enter into treatment at Cedar House. He knows that he tried calling regularly to get in and was relieved when someone called to tell him there was a bed available for him. He spent the next 90 days at Cedar House learning about his disease and how to overcome it. He said, “They were brutally honest with me and asked the right questions.” That’s when he uncovered some of the childhood trauma that contributed to his struggles. He also learned to accept his higher power and to let people in to help him. Listening to fellow clients and staff share their testimonies empowered him to change his life.

Reflecting on other lessons he discovered during his time at Cedar House, Tony said, “I didn’t know that all I needed was to get some good life skills and give it an honest try.” Near the end of his residential treatment, Tony went with a group of clients from Cedar House to a job fair at Fairmount Park. It was there that he decided to join the Army. He served in the U.S. military for 10 years and moved up the ranks to Drill Sergeant.

Tony said, “Recovery is not just staying clean. It’s moving forward in life.” He is indeed moving forward with his, as he continues his education in pursuit of a human services degree next spring and eventually a psychology degree beyond that, in order to be able to serve people in a clinical environment. In that way, he said that he is “starting to use (his) skills and trust the process.”

Cedar House set me in the right direction. I wouldn’t have felt capable if it wasn’t for Cedar House. They primed me and prepped me to see my value and that my life is worth living.

Between his time in the service and his experience in rehab, Tony learned the importance of feeling empowered. He hopes to impart these lessons on other individuals in need: “Don’t tell me what you can and cannot do. I’m going to tell you. Empower you. You have no idea what you’re capable of. If it worked for me, why can’t it work for you.” He believes in practicing life skills, going to meetings, having a sponsor, meditation, prayer, not giving in to cravings, and believing in his skills. Those firm principles and the strength of his story will take him far in life and in his efforts to serve others in need.