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Personal Recovery Story : Ryan Paige

Issue 30

From Shadow to Light How Ryan Paige Turned Adversity into Advocacy

Ryan Paige’s childhood was marked by the unsettling normalcy of substance abuse. His family moved often, and the constant relocation only intensified his feeling of displacement. Regardless of where he was, the shadow of drugs and crime loomed. By age 13, Ryan had already witnessed friends proudly flaunting their brushes with death and the law.

For many years, Ryan believed he was in control of his addiction. But as he dove into harder drugs, that illusion quickly shattered. “I tried to escape and fit in,” he reflects, “but it became my prison, isolating me from everything meaningful.” This realization marked a turning point.

Despite understanding the gravity of his situation, breaking free from the chains of addiction proved impossible. Multiple attempts at moderation and treatment didn’t work and the birth of his three children magnified the gravity of his situation.

After two overdoses in one week, a significant wake-up call came on September 7, 2019, when Ryan found himself in the recovery wing of a hospital. This unexpected turn of events, coupled with a heartfelt plea for help, steered him in a new direction.

Ten days later, he accepted a bed in a sober house. “I knew I needed help. The opportunity was there, and I seized it,” he says.

His recovery journey wasn’t straightforward, but through internal battles and external pressures, Ryan’s transformation became evident. He recognized that recovery wasn’t about reaching a destination but embracing a continuous journey of self-improvement. “The freedom of choice became my anchor,” Ryan shares. “I realized I didn’t have to stay sober, but I chose to.”

With newfound purpose, Ryan and wife Cynthia, founded AccessDirect Recovery Network. This nonprofit bridges the gap between those seeking help and available resources, such as detox facilities and recovery programs. Within a year, AccessDirect expanded its reach, touching lives beyond Maine.

For Ryan, the reward lies in witnessing transformation in others. “Seeing someone else’s growth, that’s where the magic is,” he shares passionately. With his children and a supportive community by his side, Ryan continues to champion the cause of recovery. He believes in the right to access timely treatment and advocates for its recognition as a basic human right.

Gratitude fills his heart as he acknowledges the invaluable support from Cynthia, friends, mentors, and organizations that have been pillars of strength in his journey.

Ryan’s story is one of resilience, transformation, and an unwavering belief in second chances. With a chuckle, he refers to his life experiences as a “Degree of Hard Knocks.” He believes in harnessing one’s past to create a brighter future. “When we redirect our passion and determination towards positive change,” Ryan remarks, “nothing can stand in our way.”

Gabrielle Gilbert is an endlessly curious freelance writer, poet, and visual artist waking up in Southern Maine.

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