In honor of National Recovery Month, we are celebrating recovery heroes. We recognize the individuals who embody the qualities that inspire and guide others toward a path of healing and growth in an effort to remove the stigma associated with treatment and recovery from substance use disorder (SUD).
Dwayne Blair is a credentialed Peer Recovery Support Specialist at CHESS Health and person in long-term recovery. He has experience with recovery barriers including homelessness, the criminal justice system, and long-term treatment, and regularly advocates for reduced stigma and harm reduction in the local community. In his own recovery, Dwayne has started a journey through the Chakra system to identify patterns of behavior and generational cycles as well as how to break them and live a more recovery conducive lifestyle. Dwayne spends his free time with his family, support network, and dogs while living a life in recovery that he never thought possible in active addiction.
We celebrate Dwayne as a recovery hero and recently sat down with him for a short interview.
1) What does “recovery hero” mean to you?
Recovery hero to me is someone who has lived experience and is willing and open to share with another individual who may be struggling at that time. It is about relatability. Struggling may not even be classified as currently active in substance use either. There are situations we come across in our journeys that we tend to think are something we are alone in experiencing until you come across someone else who has already walked a mile in your shoes. Everyone brings experience to the table, whether you have a decade under your belt or just 10 minutes. We can find a positive message in anyone as long as we widen our perception.
2) When you started your recovery journey, was there someone who brought you strength and hope?
There were a multitude of people who showed me what gifts of recovery truly meant. From staff members in my long-term treatment facility who taught me how to let go of my old personas that I used as tactics to survive in active addiction, to others who have helped me learn what being productive in society truly means when it comes to my community and my family. The credit goes to the recovery fellowship for the strength I continue to receive on my journey.
3) What are some challenges you have overcome in your recovery?
Developing a positive relationship with my family has been my biggest achievement in my recovery. During active addiction, my mother stepped up and raised my daughter all while fighting her own battles with cancer; she chose to be there when my choice was not to be. Over the course of the last few years my relationship with my mother has improved drastically and I get to love her unconditionally today rather than using her love for me as a weapon for ways and means to get more. I am of service to her and my family. I have also developed a wonderful relationship with my daughter, who is now 14 years old. Through my recovery journey I have learned to be a kind and understanding, compassionate father and I am grateful to say that I now have full custody of that little girl!
4) Who is your favorite superhero and why?
My favorite superhero would have to be Batman. Knowing that you have no outlandish power and all you want to do is make things better for those around you to ensure they may never have to go through the same things you did is what a true hero is. My goal is to leave the world better than how I found it and I do that by doing the right thing, even when nobody is looking. I do that by instilling proper values and leading by example to my children because that is how we leave our mark on the world.
5) Who would you say is your recovery hero?
I’m honestly unable to list a single person to describe as a hero in my recovery. There have been so many people throughout my journey that helped me take the next step, make the next right decision, and tell me when my words aren’t matching my actions so I can correct. Every voice, hug, smile, share, struggle that I have seen and experienced has molded me into the person I am today and each and every person in my circle, and they all know who they are, I am forever grateful for the life you have shown me how to live.
Do you have a recovery hero? Join the discussion on LinkedIn to share about your recovery hero.
Written By: Dwayne Blair, Peer Recovery Engagement Specialist at CHESS Health