A Remarkable Recovery Story
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A very special guest, and long-time employee of Peaks, bravely shares her inspiring recovery story in order to give hope to others who struggle with addiction.
Jason talks about his early clinician days, all while meeting Angela during those days, who was in her early days of recovery.
Angela talks a little about what her mindset was back before she started her recovery journey, and the hardships she walked through.
Angela talks about what her life looks like now as an admissions specialist, helping families through getting their loved one into treatment.
What I have learned in my recovery is that the most important thing to me is leading with my heart. I want to help people, I want to care about people, I know what it is like to be at the bottom. What I remember from people who tried to help me was that care. For me I just wanted to be in any kind of avenue in the treatment industry.
good afternoon everybody and welcome to the finding peaks recovery show i have two great friends here angela lopez who’s a personal friend of mine and also a professional that works with peaks recovery and then my man mr j freeze happy to be here today happy to have this group together really excited about the topic of conversation today which is we’re just gonna open it up with big hearts big smiles and kick it over to my man jay but what i’m gonna say really quickly is these two have had a relationship um a clinical relationship before they had a personal relationship and so we just kind of wanted to start today’s video talking about some of those early stages of angela’s recovery or even before she um ended up getting sober this time in some of his early stages as a new clinician coming out of school and working with someone like angela so we’re just going to get this thing going um and talk with jason first and just what was that experience like or what is the experience like to see a professional a person in recovery with integrity who has helped a tremendous amount of people not only get well get clean to be a connector in the community seeing where you saw her initially and then getting to see her now what is what is that like for you
and great question chris i think you know we were talking before the show started as we do and i was really reflecting on the day angela tracked me down which was what five years five years ago probably four and a half or five years ago um and i had known her like you said from even many years before that when i had less gray hair and i had more hair i apparently dressed terribly but um
but i do think uh that day um it was i remember i was downstairs at our center um in our women’s program that at the time and um angela tracked me down and i hadn’t talked to you i don’t know how long what like 10 years maybe 10 years probably um but you’d really made a huge impression on me and so when you looked me up um i was eager to see you and um and honestly it’s one of the most rewarding things of being a counselor at times is when people kind of track me down down the road and are like uh i’m doing well on my journey even if you know even if it didn’t have its stumbles along the way um but i just remember you walked in and um you’re this beautiful little girl that could barely walk and um and i i obviously knew right away you were doing well because your presence and and who you were um and i remember even on that day angela like i was hoping that one day you would work with us and were you working at a different program at the time i can’t remember i wasn’t quite yet but soon after you and i met then i started working in treatment at a different program yeah at an entry level technician job but i think through my experience with you um but also feeling um that you cared for me back then and you never pushed me away or said you’re doing this wrong you just met me where i was and i think that that along with other people in my recovery journey made the most impact that oh i know how to care for people and i think that that’s kind of what sparked my interest in wanting to work in treatment that um if there’s anything i knew how to do it was care about somebody yet how like i mean share how we met like do you want to talk about that so we met when i was i believe i was 17 years old 17 or 16. and at the time it was very early on in my addiction so i’d only been using for maybe a year or two at the time um i also struggled with eating disorders i had terrible relationships with men so i was just kind of all over the map i wouldn’t listen to my parents my mom lived out here in colorado my dad lived in vegas and so i definitely used that dynamic to my advantage to get what i wanted and which really put me in a position of not being able to accept help because there was a way out so my mom contacted you and i started seeing jason individually who do i talk to you okay talk to me yeah um i started seeing you individually yeah and i think at the time i was nowhere near ready even admitting that i had any kind of problem um i was in a relationship that was unhealthy at the time uh him and i were using together and so again i had a way out from looking at my problems so you tried your best um and you’re good i gave
yeah you know and i had wonderful family support i just wasn’t willing to look at my own problems so you know your recommendation time after time was you need to go in inpatient yeah and i was just not having it i think i even remember you bringing my parents into our session and sitting us all down and saying this is what’s happening and as soon as i saw everybody i was out i left the office i was like nope not doing this yeah i left and um yeah that’s that’s how we first met and then i think from there we lost contact i went back to vegas and that’s really where um you know i really dove deep into my addiction from there that makes sense yeah and i love that too because we’re talking trauma informed before it was cool right there and that’s that’s what i saw there is and i think you know there was a tremendous amount of intensity in the field 10 years ago to say let’s lock her away and throw away the key and let’s tell her the decision she’s making is wrong and let’s draw a hard line in the sand and let’s make sure she loses everything just to get her into treatment but what you did and what she spoke to was you just let her know that she has a seat here no matter what and whenever you’re ready i’m gonna be here and i just i tend to believe it’s through a lot of interactions like that that recoveries are built and it becomes safe so i just wanted to say that it’s just it was trauma informed before it was cool yeah yeah and i think that that was impactful to me because at the time i didn’t really have anything um i didn’t really care about anything in my life that i was scared of losing so i was comfortable having nothing and i think that the part that was hard for me was letting somebody care for me because had i let that happen there’s endless amount of people that would have i i just couldn’t see that in myself that i was deserving of that yet um so i think that that maybe um is why i remembered you even years and years later was that feeling that like oh he cared for me when i didn’t even give a [ __ ] about myself yeah yeah and planning that a little teary if you keep talking like that it’s really powerful um
and it is it is weird to me because like i i do remember it like it was last week like when you were over there and and uh and then we’ll talk about kind of then how did you how did you get sober you don’t i know we’ve talked you probably talked about that in here a little bit before but like how did you get sober and then i i do want to ask some other questions about now then too sure so what happened from there i went back to vegas and my life just took a dive i was in a relationship um that was very unhealthy so between you know the codependent dynamic that we had i’m not sure what came first really my addiction to him or the addiction to drugs and so eventually i found heroin and um i had tried to get sober i you know a couple years in i was like all right i give i i have enough like let’s try this and you know i attempted sobriety it didn’t stick i attempted again i went to treatment didn’t stick it in the same time i was dealing with an eating disorder so you know if it wasn’t one it was the other and at the time i just felt like there’s really no hope for me so you know i tried um and then when i was 19 years old my ex-boyfriend he he passed away from from an overdose and i think that that’s what made me um realize that i wasn’t invincible and also made me feel like i had nothing left to live for so you know i started doing speed balls after that and i went to california for a while to try to get sober but ended up down on skid row because that’s where i could find drugs i mean so you know i was using down there and a bunch of places in between you know to i went to memphis tennessee i went to out here in colorado to try to get sober to california and i just tried to get away from essentially myself and it wasn’t sticking so the last time i went to treatment my story is that i went to treatment 10 times before i finally got sober and that’s definitely not everybody’s experience and i never hope for anybody to go through that but for me that’s what it took and i and i’m grateful for that but number 10 i went to treatment and i week in i was like okay i’m gonna use and once it was in my mind i was like okay this is what i’m doing and so i left a weekend and i used and it was the worst 24 hours of my life um i didn’t use any of the substances that i had convinced myself i was addicted to uh you know up until then i blamed it on the drugs i was using or you know if you tried heroin then you would be addicted too and in that 24 hours i didn’t use anything i was addicted to and i could not stop so i was convinced at that time that okay this is me that’s the problem you know it’s not the driving it’s not my family it’s not my parents it’s me and i called the treatment center and i asked them if i could come back and i think that that was the first moment that i ever trusted anything bigger than myself and i ever showed a bit of humility and i asked to come back and they let me and that made the biggest difference all the other programs i had gotten kicked out of or when i relapsed they said you weren’t welcome back and so when they welcomed me back um i went back but not only did they let me come back they were grateful that i was alive and they were grateful that i was not giving up on myself and from then i just decided to take suggestions and you know everything didn’t happen at once i didn’t become a healthy normal individual as soon as i stopped using drugs i had trauma to work through i had depression anxiety wow i had no idea that you run skid row so i go every every well the last two years um and when i go and visit places inner cities urban areas i like to run from where i’m at today where i’ve been and always to come back to where i want to be and it’s a really spiritual thing and so i’ll do these runs through skid row and you know i just i miss all of that when i meet you because i meet the professional and i meet the person sitting in our lobby who is convicted to be the best mother on earth and will do anything for her child and her recovery and that’s how i came to know angela was this great integris woman in recovery great mother great values
big hearts and so to hear a story like that it kind of makes me sad because you’re right you are worth so much more than that but oftentimes our stories our pain our shame whatever it is lead us to a place where we’re isolated and all alone and disconnected but it is just so rewarding to see your recovery intention today in the way that you live your life which is attractive to each and every person you have the opportunity to come into contact with i mean it is truly something that people want more in their lives today is your resolve and your energy and your compassion and your love so much so that i didn’t mention it on the front end but angela started out as what we call now a cca client care aid and i think it was probably a house manager back then and she was a graveyard overnight manager and she took a weekend yeah that’s where i started just her best shift the best shift ever she took a three dollar pay cut and came to peak’s recovery um tell me about that experience of taking that pay cut why did you do it how’d you do it yeah so i was working at another program and you know initially
what i’ve learned i guess in my recovery is that the most important thing to me is leading with my heart and you know i just want to help people i want to care about people i know what it’s like to be at the bottom and what i remember from people that tried to help me is that um that care so for me i just wanted to be in any kind of avenue in the treatment you know industry so i started off as a technician with a corporate program so i was making a little bit more but eventually i didn’t feel any heart i didn’t feel useful um i felt like i just handed out cigarettes and that was it so i was like okay this is just not for me and it was like okay this is three dollars more but at what cost and the cost was at me not feeling useful and really feeling drained by helping people and that’s never my hope so you know i knew of peace because of jason and i when i had come to see him so i was like you know what i believe in that program and um i printed off my resume and i walked into the office and um rachel tap she interviewed me in that moment and you know the only shift they had available was overnight on the weekends to me that was small compared to the three dollars and the pay cut because it was something that was meaningful to me so what my wife looked like at the time i was a single mom already of my daughter who was one and a half so there’s no daycare on the weekends so i would work 12 hours overnight and then i would pick her up from pueblo where my sister lived drive back try to take a nap while my one and a half year old is tearing up the house and then drop her off and go back to work for 12 hours and then monday morning then she would be able to go to school and i would be able to sleep and so that that’s what my life looked like and then you know from there i think um what made the biggest difference for me professionally is just acting out of integrity and putting my heart first even in what i do um as a job so i think from there i was able to work my way up through the company yeah it’s a really beautiful thing and then i think we do mean to actually lose you back to the almost almost and then we’re like no no we’ll just let’s just pay her that three bucks she’s worth all of it and now angela is an admission specialist she brings people in on the front end of treatment and if my sons god forbid would ever have to go to treatment i can’t think of somebody that i would want them to get on the phone with other than you because you’re going to lead with that heart you’re going to make them feel safe you’re going to tell them that they’re valuable even when they don’t believe it and that’s the type of people that i want in and around my recovery circle in and around our treatment program and in our communities and can you talk a little bit about what that admissions job has kind of changed for you professionally what is it like to really have those families on the front end a lot of times very vulnerable i mean the work that you do is so precious and has to be so precise and the family often times is like clay yeah and sometimes people do poorly with that clay yeah and i think you do just a magnificent job um filled with integrity and so what what has that been like for you transitioning from like client-centered to more centered yeah so i think for me what i remind the families that i am working with is that we all have the same goal nobody wants to live their life you know doing drugs and living in this burden of mental health and so nobody wants to be there and there’s no right way to get to recovery i think that a lot of the tension between families comes because one person thinks there’s a right way and typically the client is like no that’s not the right way to support me which is there’s probably truth in that somewhere so i think that that’s the biggest thing i remember is that okay we all have the same goal here and how do we get there and then also making them um you know feel like they’re not alone in this um i think even if i don’t tell them specifically i want them to feel that that you know there’s they’ve been hurting their loved one has been hurting and there’s a solution for that and so i think that that’s just always my hope is every time i take the call is that okay make them feel like they are not alone and i think that that makes the world of difference um is for somebody to feel like they have somebody to support them yeah and then that you can relate to and i love the way that you can relate with families and people and even if it’s not necessarily your story you do a really cool job of allowing them to see their story in yours and i think that’s a really cool unique professional and personal trait that you have is really highlighting a story that might be a bit different but enabling that story or enabling them to see their story in that so that relatability and that safety right away i just think you do such a phenomenal job with that because when you were telling your story i never was on skid row but damn i felt like i connected with that you know really really well and so i just really appreciate you coming on here today and really just talking about some of those things that are near and dear to your heart in your recovery process that is so intimate to you and your family and i’ve just really got a tremendous amount of gratitude for who you are what you’re about and what you do on a daily basis and i couldn’t celebrate you more both personally professionally and you’re amazing mother an amazing professional amazing person and that bright light just exudes off of you so thank you so much for coming in today jason as always chief clinical officer admission specialist cheerleader
it’s been it’s been awesome opportunity having you all on today um i appreciate you coming on and spending some time on this sorry about the technical difficulties that’s what people with big hearts do they don’t pay attention to wires sometimes it goes a loop thank you so much please find us on spotify facebook instagram wherever you get your podcast we love you big hearts big smiles peaks recovery let’s go