True Story: Joan

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Joan: A true story of substance abuse, treatment & recovery

More than 15 years ago, I found myself living without hope. I had no sense of direction and no sense of purpose. I was homeless and felt as though I was in an endless whirlpool with no way to escape. I was selling drugs and my body and soul and taking advantage of others – all to support my drug habit. I hated myself and the life I was living. I had lost everything and everyone – nothing mattered except the next drink and drug. At times, I wished I were dead. So before the child welfare could take my daughter away, I gave my Erica over to her grandparents, which was the best thing for her at the time.

It was a cold December and I wanted so desperately to change my way of living only to find myself arrested one more time for what I considered ‘surviving’. It was at that moment that I had a decision to make – I was offered one last chance by the judge. After telling the judge my story and about my desire to change, he said, “I had better never see you in my court room again, do you understand?”

So I started looking for a place to get help and found Phoenix House. I’ve been clean since December 9, 1993, the day I entered the program. Phoenix House taught me how to live again. I learned how to address issues from which I was running, how to appreciate the little things, how to become humble and put a value on what was important. It was through treatment that I began to set priorities and make healthy decisions. I began trusting others, taking pride in the little things that meant so much. I now care about myself and others around me.

Life is not perfect. I work hard everyday to make a difference in others’ lives. I take pride in leading by example and sharing what I’ve learned. I’m in school studying for my CASAC. I manage three AmeriCorps programs across New York state: Phoenix House AmeriCorps, the Youth Power Mentoring Corps and Phoenix Recovery Corps Programs where volunteers go out into the community and educate others about substance abuse. Volunteers teach prevention and life skills to youth and provide necessary resources for those who need help.

Treatment is hard and recovery is difficult. But my worst day today is better than my best day before I was clean.

I am forever grateful to Phoenix House for teaching me how to live life without medicating my feelings and for providing me with an opportunity to help others. I’m proud to be a part of the Recovery Movement, today my life has meaning and purpose. I have many friends and great colleagues – they like me and I like me too! So thank you to Phoenix House for helping me to be the person I was truly meant to be.

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  • Kasun Dowtin

    I respect ur will power. I went 2 Phoenix house but, at the time I did not take treatment serious. Yourktown is the best facility that anyone can recieve care from. I kasun dowtin has relapsed because I was young and chose not to take control of my life. I know I need help but, I refuse to get treatment from any other facility besides at yourktown. To me, this is the best place for adolescents and adults to gain one-hundred percent control of their lives. I may have relapsed but I did not forget the only place that installed decency and dignity in me. I might have been in treatment more than once but, I refused, it diden’t refuse me. If i had a chance I would love to go back to Phoenix academy. My father wants me to go to veratasc but I’m 29 so the choice is mine. I would love to complete Phoenix house one day, eventhough I split a couple of times. That was just me being confused and young minded.

  • Joan

    Call me anytime, we can talk, you don’t have to do this alone or learn the hard way. 917-439-2977. Thank you for your comments.



  • cheryl

    you are an amazing person and belive it or not you made a differance in my life and I thank you for that…..

  • Barry phillips

    Hi Joan remember me I started Sept 1994 and have been clean since I enjoyed my experience it made me grow up at 42yrs of age. I treasure all my friendships while and still do today by maintaining my network.I continue to practice one day at a time and owe my success to my peers, counselors,directors and. You have to want this in order to succeed love ya Joan talk soon.

  • VG

    Hi Joan, you and I were in Belle Terre together. Carl Canty was my best friend and he is still sober . I am still sober since 1993 and have since become an LMSW and work for NYC. I owe it all to Phoenix House and then Director Frank Croce. God Bless you.

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