Bethany Johnson welcomes everyone into the Coastal Recovery Community Center (CRCC) with a warm smile and a safe space for individuals seeking help, those in recovery, and affected others. She works as the Office Manager of CRCC in Rockland, Maine — the town she grew up in, experienced 17 years of addiction in, and where she now devotes her life to helping others.
Bethany has experienced and overcome significant challenges since her youth. In her twenties, a car accident left her learning how to walk again, all while caring for her infant daughter. She was prescribed benzodiazepines and opiates to manage pain and complex post-traumatic stress disorder. As her tolerance to the medication grew, lies became the way to secure more of the medication she was dependent on.
Years later, when her husband passed away, Bethany fell apart. She placed her precious belongings in storage and moved out of state to seek help. When she defaulted on the storage fee and lost all of the items inside, Bethany felt that she had truly lost everything to the disease of addiction.
After detox in a Psychiatric Addiction Recovery Center (PARC), Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT), and going through an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), Bethany found the resources she needed to stay sober. The continuous support of her daughter and the memory of all she lost became her primary motivation to stay sober. Today, being a support to others, like others once did for her, is her driving force.
Eight years into her sobriety Bethany was recruited by CRCC, a decision that changed her life. As Office Manager, Bethany keeps a work phone that consistently rings with people seeking recovery resources and next steps. When someone makes that brave first call, she makes sure they get connected to the resources they need and have an invitation to the recovery center.
The center is also a safe space for youth in the community seeking a substance-free place to hangout or get community service hours, and Bethany is someone they trust. She hopes to travel to other recovery centers and share tools to grow their reach and impact. As she describes, “Before I started at CRCC, I was just existing in sobriety, not living in sobriety.”
When she’s not directing people toward the next steps, running recovery center events, or doing jail outreach, Bethany is also a recovery coach to over a dozen community members. Individuals who once bought drugs from Bethany now seek her help for recovery coaching. The metal bracelets Bethany gives to people seeking help are inscribed on the inside with three simple words, “Keep ****ing Going.”
If you have the pleasure of meeting Bethany in person, you will see firsthand the passion and commitment she has for the individuals she serves. While handing a community member a folder full of applications for local resources, she shares, “I want everyone to know this: We do recover and we are never alone. There is always someone in the recovery community here for you.”
Maine Voices of Recovery is a series written by Jamie Lovley and created by Penobscot Bay Community Health Partnerships with the help of the community. The goal of the series is to share the hope of recovery, dispel misunderstanding about substance use disorder in the state of Maine, and record stories of how long-term recovery works.