We are excited to introduce you to Patrick Farley IV, January’s Specialist Spotlight! Patrick is a peer recovery coach and an extremely passionate advocate for the recovery community. You don’t want to miss Patrick’s inspirational post about his recovery journey and the importance of human connection.
My name’s Patrick Farley IV and I’m a person in long-term recovery. What that means to me is I haven’t felt the need to use drugs or alcohol since June 22, 2017. Life before that was dark and hopeless. Over the years I earned my frequent flyer miles from going in and out of treatment. Nothing ever seemed to stick and I didn’t know why. I came from a family who has always loved and supported me, and yet I continued to get high and destroy myself. I felt like a failure. Towards the end of my use, I became suicidal and spent some time in the psych ward. Addiction is ugly, and for a while, my life in addiction was hard to look back on. It was like a bad dream, I just wanted it to end and have everything be okay again.
I think a lot of people who struggle with addiction can relate to that. We just want to feel okay. But the problem with substance use disorder is that feeling okay generally doesn’t happen unless you have the substance, at least for me that was true. I would have short periods of sobriety where I would be scrambling to find an identity, but I was never able to be truly happy or find myself, so I’d return to use. This cycle was to become my life, it was all I knew.
At one point I had a promising future. I had goals and I felt responsible. I was 20 years old when I first told my mom I was addicted to heroin, I dropped out of nursing school shortly after and continued to use for the next 6 years.
The start of this new chapter in recovery began with a series of consequences. Due to my drug use, I lost everything and ended up homeless. In a last-ditch effort to try and save my life, I went back to treatment. It was time for me to get honest. I did a few months of inpatient treatment followed by sober living. At first being sober was hard, I felt like a raw nerve ending. But the recovery community here in the Twin Cities embraced me. And come to find out there were people with similar stories who were not only sober and happy, but were doing things in life that I wanted to do. I was sold.
I started showing up and participating in my life. I knew I wanted to work in the recovery field but I wasn’t sure what that was going to look like. So when I wasn’t working at my retail job I would volunteer on my days off at Minnesota Recovery Connection. After a couple months, I signed up for their Recovery Coach Academy and got my recovery coach certification. Then I stumbled across an interesting program called Recovery Corps that I didn’t know anything about it so I started asking questions. Recovery Corps is part of AmeriCorps, which is essentially the domestic version of the Peace Corps, except instead of going to other countries members serve locally in their communities. The incentives for me were to gain valuable experience in the recovery field, have the opportunity to make changes in my community, and receive the education award AmeriCorps gives to its members after their completion of service.
I decided to join. I joined the Minnesota Opioid Response Corps, which is an initiative started by ServeMinnesota and Reading & Math Inc. in response to the current opioid epidemic. The site I serve at is a non-profit organization called the Minnesota Association of Sober Homes (MASH) where my role is to build capacity within the organization. I’m also managing a sober house and I have plans to go back to school after I complete my service.
About 6 months ago I started a recovery related Facebook group called Minnesota Recovery Management. It’s a supportive community for both people in recovery and anybody who supports it (aka ‘allies of recovery’). I think the stigma exists in the separation between the people who have substance use disorder and the people who don’t. And I don’t think it’s entirely due to a lack of compassion, it’s just a lack of perspective. So my goal is to help break that stigma by showing society what recovery looks like. For so long I felt the pressure to not talk about my addiction in certain social situations, but I don’t want to be quiet about it anymore. My vision is that in the future people can walk into job interviews and say with complete confidence, “I’m a person in long-term recovery and let me share with you a little bit about what that means to me.”
Today my life gives hope of a promising future again. I’m so grateful for the experiences I had, even though a lot of them were difficult and painful. They serve as a tool for me to use when I talk to other people who are going through what I went through. I can’t say getting sober was easy. But worth it? Definitely. My advice to anybody who is in active addiction or struggling to stay sober is this: Get and stay connected. Your network is your biggest resource because humans need humans. And thank God we have humans who survived addiction who now walk alongside other humans on their journey through recovery.