Recovery is Beautiful | Charlie’s Recovery Story
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Charlie’s Recovery Story

Charlie’s Recovery Story

Recovery Is Beautiful would like to highlight the following story that was roignially published on NPR’s website, titled, a Peer Recovery Coach Walks The Front Lines Of America’s Opioid Epidemic. Please see below!

Charlie Oen revisits a garage where he abused drugs. Oen was addicted to heroin at the age of 16. Now 25, he is sober and working as a peer counselor in Lima, Ohio.

Charlie Oen’s battle with addiction started when he was 16 and his family moved to Lima, Ohio. It was the last stop in a string of moves his military family made — from Panama to North Carolina, Kentucky, Texas and Germany.

“I went toward a bad group because those were the people that accepted me,” he says. Drugs became a substitute for real friendships.

He started drinking, popping pills, cooking meth and shooting heroin. He was homeless for a while when his parents kicked him out of the house. “I would just be wandering the streets of Lima at all hours of the night until I found somewhere, chilled, sat down, fell asleep in an alley,” he says.

By age 19, Charlie was serving a three-year sentence in prison on a burglary charge. That’s where he stopped using drugs. He spent the last five months of his sentence in a community-based correctional facility where he took classes and completed group work to learn about addiction. The lessons stuck.

“I started telling people, ‘I want to be a probation officer,’ and everybody knocked it,” he says. “They were like, ‘You can’t do that, you’re a felon.’ I said, ‘Check it out, I’m going to do something.’ ”

Charlie is one of five peer recovery coaches at Coleman Professional Services in Lima, and at age 25, he is by far the youngest. Each coach works with about 20 clients to help remove some of the impediments, big and small, to living a drug-free life. Some clients may need help learning to socialize without drugs or getting a ride to their recovery meetings. Others, like 52-year-old Anna Hershey, need more constant support.

“I texted you last night. I know it was late but I needed someone to talk to right away,” she tells Charlie when they meet in Coleman’s parking lot the week before Thanksgiving. She’d argued with her boyfriend the night before, and anger is usually a trigger for her drug use. Charlie is her first recovery coach in over 30 years of addiction.

“I’m proud of myself because I didn’t leave the house and go do the drugs, and that’s what I usually do when I get frustrated,” she tells him.

To read more, click here.