I heard about Mcshin from a nurse in the emergency room while I was coming back from an almost fatal heroin overdose. I was the lowest I’ve ever been in my life, but it seemed as if my family was suffering more than I was. They had been watching me progressively spiral downward for years, but this was different. This was really happening. They realized that this was not a moral deficiency or a conscious choice that I had made. This was a disease, and it needed to be treated like any other serious medical issue. I was about to embark on a journey that would change my whole purpose in life.
I walked through the door of the Mcshin Foundation on December 26th, 2016. I was very nervous and shy, not knowing what I was getting myself into. I was quickly introduced to the “herd,” a group of like-minded addicts that wanted to stay clean. As I awkwardly went to shake hands with the first stranger, I was quickly trapped into a hug. “We hug around here,” he said. They were so nice to me! Almost too nice, but it gave me hope. I saw something in them that I wanted - happiness.
Within an hour I was in my first Narcotics Anonymous meeting. I was very uncomfortable, but could identify with everything that was being said. I heard my story. It was at that time that I realized something vital to recovery- I was not special, unique, or different. There were other people that felt the way I felt and had lived the way I lived. They talked about doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. They called it insanity. I believed I was an addict who needed help. Everything they were saying made so much sense. It wasn’t long before I was enlightened by a very important fact- drugs are only a symptom of the disease of addiction. It wasn’t enough for me to just stop using drugs. I had to change my way of life.
Living in a Mcshin recovery house has been so much fun for me. For the first time in my life, I have true peace of mind. I feel like I am part of a family for the first time. They hold me accountable and point out things that I need to improve on. They see things that I cant see. It’s comforting to know that we all have similar stories. Every staff member that works at Mcshin is a person in recovery. Even the house manager is a person in recovery. I went on to find out that the president of the foundation, John Shinholser, is an addict who has over thirty years clean. This gave me so much hope in the beginning. I thought to myself, “if they can recover, just maybe I can too.” They say that the therapeutic value of one addict helping another is without parallel.
I now have a full time job and am able to pay my own rent. I am learning responsibility, dealing with life on life’s terms. Depression, hopelessness, and anxiety are all feelings of the past and I owe it all to my higher power. The steps of Narcotics Anonymous are very important for me because they show me things about myself that I may have not seen before. I have a sponsor who works the steps with me and I call him every day. “A grateful addict doesn’t use,” he always tells me.
Mcshin showed me that I can have fun without drugs. I had tried other recovery options but they just didn’t seem to work. I think the reason Mcshin is so successful is because of its peer-to-peer approach to the disease of addiction. We have an army of recovering addicts who are on a mission to stay clean and spread the message of hope. It is not enough for me to go somewhere, stop using for a period of time, and then immediately go back to the street. This is my new life. I have to surround myself with like-minded people who are not using and have found a new way to live. This is an every day battle for me, and that is what Mcshin has taught me. Recovery is an action, not just a thought. Shinholser constantly reminds us about the reality of our disease. He says, “If you chase your recovery like you chase your drug, you’ll do just fine.”