Meeting Harold for the first time one would see him as a calm, reserved man. His journey however, may surprise you. As a survivor of many hardships, Harold’s resilience serves as a story of hope to those recovering from substance use disorder.
Once a hesitant prospective member of the Café, he remained open-minded, optimistic and continued to visit the Café on a regular basis. When the benefits of a loving community proved to be a highlight of his new life in sobriety, Harold committed to giving back the kindness and compassion he received at Recovery Café Longmont as a member and later as a volunteer. Harold points to the power of peer support as a cornerstone in his recovery and a strong impetus to provide companionship, motivation, and guidance to those suffering with substance use disorder.
Breaking the Cycle
For decades, Harold found himself stuck in cycles of behavior that repeatedly landed him in isolation, despair, halfway houses, and prison. He had made many resolutions to get sober, but the pivotal point of his recovery came once he was willing to change every aspect of his life. At the end of his last prison sentence, Harold decided to move on from the patterns and people that encouraged his substance use. “I couldn’t go back to the same environment and expect different consequences. I stopped talking to them and never looked back.”
A New Lease On Life
To those in recovery from substance use disorder, Harold suggests that “hanging out with people who are still using is opening a door. You have to leave that life behind, move forward, and find a new support system and structure.” Harold’s personal new design for living includes socialization with people who want the best for him, not overworking himself, and making time for things that bring him joy such as walking, exploring, reading, and volunteering.
In 2022, while exploring his desire for a new way of life, Harold’s parole officer recommended he check out Recovery Café. Harold said, “When I first came in, I wished I ran across something like this years ago. This is a productive way to find your own way to sobriety with inspiration and community. The Café quickly became a big part of my self-care.” On his first visit to the Cafe, Harold spent some time talking outside with Chris, a Café peer support specialist, then filled out new member orientation paperwork. Harold recalls he felt reserved on that day, but was able to open up to another peer support specialist, Uriah, who also had lived experience in the criminal justice system.
“There is an instant connection when someone can relate to your unique experiences and understand the guilt, pain and other associated feelings. It helps you to forgive yourself, to accept things as they are, and see that there is a path to move forward and do better.”
Harold recently accepted a job as a peer support specialist for Tribe Recovery Homes. He says, “I never would have thought that I could be in a place to use my experience to help others. I’m not proud of my using, but I don’t mind sharing about it if it can help people.”