Gavin started working with Kyros in March of last year, and soon after became a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist (CPRS) and quit his previous job to commit to the position full-time. Recently becoming a CPRS Supervisor, Gavin is now coaching others on how to be an effective mentor, leader and guide as a CPRS. Around a year into his own recovery after 8 years of active addiction, Gavin is attending Anoka Ramsey Community College and is passionate about helping others achieve successful recovery. Here is Gavin’s recovery story.

Tell us a bit about your recovery story – how did you begin your recovery?
I was at my lowest point having just been released from jail and going out and getting high the first day I was out of custody. My mom, family and staff from MN Adult & Teen Challenge began calling me. They quickly got it into my thick skull that I should go to treatment. I went to Teen Challenge, completed the short term and went to the long term for a month. At my 3 month sobriety date I went to FreedomWorks, and that is where I found God and a brotherhood of positive peers. I utilized all the resources FreedomWorks has to offer and found myself in a really good place mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

What are some obstacles you overcame at the beginning of your recovery journey?
The biggest challenges for me were mental. I really struggled with cutting off my friends who were still in active use, and it was difficult to find a whole new group of peers. Being around friends who still used was my downfall every time. Another obstacle was not justifying old behaviors or going back into places I knew I’d be triggered at.

What do you think are the biggest challenges that people in recovery face?
Stigma and stereotyping. A lot of people in recovery have been written off by “normal” people. Whether this be family, friends, or just random strangers. Many people are trying to heal from a lot of things and this can be challenging if people look or talk about you a certain way just because you struggle with addiction. Another challenge is building a new community of people that will not endanger your recovery. I think this is a challenge we all have faced at some point in our recovery.

How has your life changed throughout your recovery?
My life has done a complete 180. Now, my family trusts me and I am allowed to be at home and spend time with my siblings alone. My parents trust me to use their car when mine is in the shop. They actually cosigned on a loan for me which never would have happened before I was in recovery. I now help people in their recovery rather than helping them relapse.

How Did You Hear About Kyros?
I found Kyros when it originally started, and one of my old sponsors was actually helping get it going. One of my friends from Teen Challenge became my PRSS when I was still early in recovery and I knew I wanted to do what he was doing, so I took the class. I saw what the position really was truly about and how much a CPRS could help a person in recovery. Recently I quit my job and started full time in my position, and I worked hard to get to 500 hours and get my reciprocal. After getting my reciprocal I became a supervisor and just recently got my supervisor certification as well. Though this job is not easy, I know I am making a difference and helping save lives. Kyros has become a second family to me and I always know someone will be there for me when I am struggling just like I get to be there for those through their struggles. Through my employment with Kyros I have had many firsts. First apartment, first phone bill, first new car, first laptop. Kyros has enabled me to chase my dreams and help other people chase their dreams.

What does success in recovery look like to you?
Success in recovery is helping give back to others. Doing what we do as CPRSs, as well as what counselors and people who volunteer do is what success looks like. Success is being a good husband, son, daughter, sister, brother, or mom again. It’s sacrificing your time to do for someone else what they did for you.

Is there anything you wish you could share with anyone who is at the beginning of their recovery journey – or at any point in their recovery?
Stick through it, there are guaranteed to be rough days and some days you’re going to just wish you were high. That feeling goes away though, so lean on your sponsor/mentor and higher power when you need to. No drug is worth your freedom, happiness, success, family, and most importantly LIFE!!!!

Interested in reading more about addiction and substance use disorder recovery? Check out the other recovery stories we have on our blog.

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