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From addiction to recovery to helping others

September is Recovery Month, a time to celebrate the gains made by people in treatment and recovery

Ray Brown
Ray Brown

August 26, 2014 - Ray Brown’s addiction story started at age 16. He used marijuana, alcohol and methamphetamines. Throughout his early life, he lost pretty much everything: his home, his wife and even his kids.

He tried several different treatment centers – but he kept relapsing.

“I wanted to be dead a few times,” he says. “It was pretty intense times.”

“I remember waking up in a booth of the bar and thinking I’ll never see my kids grow up,” Brown says. “I was 30 years old and living in a bar. Nobody wanted anything to do with me.”

He was ready for help. He entered Willamette Family Treatment Services in Eugene, which is a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center funded by the Oregon Health Authority through Lane County. At the center, he learned and practiced the skills he needed to achieve and maintain recovery from his addictions. Toward the end of treatment he was able to get back his old job as an electronics technician.

After treatment, Brown got continuing help from a peer support specialist who visited him at home and at work. His specialist got him connected with a 12-step recovery program and a parents recovery support group. Brown also got help finding housing through Catholic Community Services. And he got his three children back.

His life stabilized, Brown became a mentor for other men with families going through treatment.

"Recovery is about mental, emotional and spiritual healing." ~ Ray Brown

The mentoring led to a job offer as a peer support interventionist with the Accessing Success Program run by the Relief Nursery in Eugene and Springfield – a job he never thought he’d be paid for.

“I had mentored other men. So, they thought I could help men get through the barriers to recovery the way I had,” Brown says. “It was an opportunity to help a lot of other dads.”

The Relief Nursery provides drug and alcohol recovery support services, counseling, parenting classes, peer support, child care, transportation, and positive social activities. They helped him get training as a certified alcohol and drug counselor. Brown then became program manager and just recently he was promoted to program director.

He still has a sponsor and continues to use the 12-step recovery program, applying the steps in all areas of his life.

“Recovery for me is about a lifelong change in my thinking, my actions toward myself and toward other people,” he says. “Recovery is about mental, emotional and spiritual healing.”