At the WRA, we want our recovery advocates to feel prepared to share their story in a way that honors their experiences and lets them stand in their own power. Part of our work on changing public understanding of behavioral health challenges, including substance use disorders, is helping people share their story in support of pro-recovery policies. Sometimes, they get the opportunity to testify in support of those policies in a legislative hearing.

A couple of weeks ago, one of our advocates in Chelan County, Liza, testified for the first time. We could not be prouder of the courage and bravery it takes to stand up and share such challenging personal journeys.

This is Liza’s testimony — can you believe it’s less than 2 minutes long?

 

My name is Liza, and I am a person in long-term recovery. I have had many ups and downs in recovery, including more than one overdose experience. In October 2016, I went to treatment again. I had been using heroin in Los Angeles, and lost everything. I was homeless. After 2 months in treatment, I moved to Wenatchee to start a new life.

In Wenatchee, I immediately got involved in a 12-step fellowship, and with the support of all the great people involved there, I started doing service work helping others, got all of my past criminal charges dropped, and even became a mom.

After 2 years, I allowed a stressful situation to take over my emotions. I relapsed. In the beginning I only drank, telling myself alcohol wasn’t a problem for me. And at first, it wasn’t.

But one night, I ran into someone who was still actively using drugs. And next thing you know, we were getting high together.

Image Description: A selfie of a young woman in a black jacket smiling at the camera

I remember being in the kitchen, and I was scared. Because I have overdosed in the past, I knew it could happen again. I tried to do just a little bit, trying to be safe. I was so thirsty, and grabbing a drink is the last thing I remember.

The next thing I knew, I woke up face up on the kitchen floor. My head was pounding, I was freezing cold, and I felt sick. There were 5 paramedics surrounding me, begging me to go to the ER. They told me that they had to use two doses of naloxone to bring me back. I am lucky that the person I was using with cared enough to call 911 and get help before it was too late.

When I got home from the hospital, I just started crying. I knew I needed something different. I knew I had to get into recovery again, not just for me, but for my son.

Thinking about having Aiden grow up without me, what life would look like for him without his mom… I never want him to feel the pain of that kind of loss. I’m not a bad person. I was sick.

Because naloxone saved my life, I have almost 18 months in recovery. I’m finishing my bachelor’s degree. And I was there to celebrate my son’s second and then third birthdays. Without naloxone, Aiden wouldn’t have a mom.

Naloxone gave me another chance at life, and another chance at motherhood. Please support SB 5195. Thank you.”

As hundreds of advocates get ready to talk to legislators for Recovery Advocacy Day next week, we asked Liza if she had anything to say to folks who haven’t shared their story like this before.

“I would have to say that by speaking up and sharing your story, it will end the stigma of addiction and I refuse to be silent about it. I am tired of seeing people die from overdoses.”

Your story can make all the difference. Join us on Thursday, February 11th for Recovery Advocacy Day — registration closes on Wednesday, February 3 at midnight.