Hunter’s Story of Recovery
This month’s blog features the recovery story of Hunter Welch, one of LRADAC’s Peer Support Specialists. We want to thank Hunter for his willingness to share his recovery story and the many resources he has found helpful throughout his journey. LRADAC would like to encourage those interested in beginning their journey on the path to recovery to visit our webpage at https://www.lradac.org or call our office at 803.726.9300.
How long have you been in recovery?
I have been in recovery since May 27, 2018. There have been many twists and turns along the way. Still, that date marks the day I experienced a significant shift in identity and internalized the idea of being in recovery.
Tell us your story.
I grew up receiving an abundance of “just say no” messages from my family. Unbeknownst to me at the time, this was because my maternal grandparents died due to their struggles with alcohol and gambling, and my father has struggled with polysubstance use. Naturally, I had a high genetic predisposition for developing similar issues.
I never touched a drink or drug until my first night away from home at college. I did not understand why I wasn’t supposed to drink or use drugs. I knew my parents told me not to do it, and my rebellious teenage instinct took over. That night I felt like I had found the thing I had been searching for. I felt that for once, everything was okay… and I couldn’t wait to do it again.
I organized my life to support drinking and using substances as much as possible. I started withdrawing from activities and social circles that did not involve drinking or substance use. Over time I lost the motivation to be around others and go do things to get drunk or high. This drew me into isolation, and the substances completely replaced all other forms of connection. At this point, I could only function under the influence of substances. I was completely unaware of any alternative to that lifestyle in this dark and lonely place. The only options that appeared logical to my compromised mind were continuing to use substances until I died or attempting suicide. After a suicide lived experience, a counselor in recovery shared her story with me, offering herself as living proof that there is hope, and ultimately convinced me to enter treatment.
Treatment was not a linear path; it took four months for me to reach a place of acceptance and readiness to adopt a new identity as a person in recovery. This included a deep belief that recovery was possible for me. That simple but powerful belief got me through the incredibly difficult work of early recovery and even recurrences after years of abstinence.
What does recovery mean to you?
To me, recovery means regaining freedom. Amid addiction, all freedom is lost. You can no longer decide what you want to do, who you want to be around, where you want to go, or what you want to think about. All of these desires must pass through the filter of addiction. Recovery is a process of regaining your power and thus your freedom.
Recovery is also not necessarily sobriety. For many, recovery includes sobriety, but it is not the ultimate measure of the quality of recovery. I have come across individuals with years of sobriety but very little recovery and those who don’t practice total abstinence but have found a wealth of recovery.
What resources are available for people in recovery?
The recovery community in the Midlands is very strong. Locally, several different recovery communities hold in-person meetings. There are various 12-step fellowships (Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, etc.), religious recovery fellowships (Celebrate Recovery, Recovery Dharma, etc.), secular fellowships (SMART Recovery), recovery community organizations (The Courage Center, Midlands Recovery Center), and collegiate recovery programs (Gamecock Recovery). Links for all these fellowships and organizations can be found at the bottom of this page.
Where can people go for help/treatment?
I may be biased, but LRADAC is a wonderful place to start if you believe you or a loved one may need treatment. LRADAC will never turn anyone away regardless of their ability to pay. Counselors at LRADAC will complete an assessment to determine the appropriate level of care needed. If you require a higher level of care than LRADAC can provide, trained and knowledgeable individuals will make the right referral for you and help you navigate the sometimes-confusing treatment field.