My name is Rebecca Zwicker, and I am a woman in long-term recovery. I have not put a substance in my body since June 18, 2014 and – because of that – my life has changed dramatically.
The impossible has become possible.
I grew up in Upton, Massachusetts and moved to Worcester when I was 18 years old. I got married at 19, bought a house, and had two beautiful children. When I was 23, I was in a car accident and was prescribed Oxycontin for pain.
At the end of my use, I was an IV heroin abuser. Addiction stole all the things I enjoyed and loved — including my children, family, my home and career. I went from someone who owned a home to someone who didn’t even have one.
For 12 years I was in and out of about 150 detox facilities, treatment programs, and the criminal justice system. Each time, brought me a little closer to recovery and gave me hope that one day I could find recovery, too.
• His words empowered me. •
On June 15th, 2014 I overdosed on a train. Days later, I woke up in an intensive care unit. I woke up scared, not knowing what happened or why I was there. I was also experiencing withdrawal symptoms and felt like I had the flu times 1,000.
Due to the stigma surrounding substance use, I was treated very disrespectfully in the hospital. I was discharged with eight broken ribs (from CPR), soiled shorts, a johnny covering the top half of my body, and NO discharge plan
I had a 2pm violation of probation hearing at Worcester District Court and on my way to the court I stopped and got high again. At the time, I did not know this was going to be my last time using. I went into the court hearing, looking like I needed help with my addiction. I stood before The Honorable Judge Allard-Madaus, and he treated me like a person. He offered me compassion, and told me I was worth it.
Judge Madaus gave me the “umpteenth” chance I needed, and I went into a residential program; which would support me with my substance use problem. He told me when I hit my six month recovery milestone, I should go see him, so I did! It meant so much to me that he cared. When I showed up, he told me he was proud of me. It was the first positive interaction I’d had in a courthouse. He told me to come see him every month until I got my year.
After I reached my year, he told me the first year was for me and every day after that is for him, so he can keep hope alive! I ended up becoming a Recovery Coach and working with his Recovery Court and we have become professional colleagues and are now friends (this is the impossible becoming possible). If you would’ve told me the day I stood in front of him on June 18th of 2014 that in the near future I would be a professional standing in his court room, helping others, I would’ve never believed it.
My addiction stole and destroyed my relationship with my children. When I found recovery, they were 14 and 16 years old, and wanted nothing to do with me. I understood. Because I have continued my journey in recovery, our relationships slowly mended, and I have an unbelievable relationship with them today. I am there for them every day.
Unfortunately, there is no map or guidebook for personal recovery from substance use disorder. We are not given any shortcuts, and no one tells us “Here! This is what will work for you.” There are so many ways to find and maintain recovery, and for me, it came down to trial and error. I tried medications, peer support groups, yoga, meditation, 12-step meetings, church etc., until I found what worked best. For me, it was peer support at our local Peer Recovery Support Center, Everyday Miracles, and peer support groups.
With support, I have maintained my recovery and it has allowed me to rebuild my life.
Recovery work has become my passion and it is not even work when you love what you do! Life is amazing today and I am so grateful for this recovery journey. Most recently, I bought a house!! I was homeless — because of my addiction, and I’m officially a homeowner — because of my recovery!!
My best advice for anyone seeking recovery is, if it is working, keep going! If not, try something different. Just don’t give up. Keep fighting the good fight and remember…you are worth it!
If you or a loved one are struggling with use, misuse, or addiction, support and resources are available. Contact Us, and receive help today.