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Personal Recovery Story – Michael Paddleford

Staying the Course – A winding road to recovery sends a message of hope

That early morning in March 2002, it seemed like every other snowstorm. I was the assistant manager at a convenience store, and they had called me in to cover the night shift. I began to spread salt around and a simple slip on the ice resulted in six herniated discs in my back, which eventually led to me becoming disabled. Due to my age, surgery wasn’t an option and painkillers became the only course of treatment.

After eight years, I was hooked on the medication. When one doctor stopped prescribing, I would find another. Eventually the legal prescriptions stopped, but my addiction did not. I did my best to raise my family, in an environment of guilt, shame, and chaos. Relationships were destroyed and my entire family was hurting.

Finally, when my daughter was 16 years old, she was able to meet a sober version of me.

In November of 2018, I took a chance and made a change. I had to accept the fact that I had no control over my addiction, and my life was unmanageable. At the time, I knew nothing about recovery in my small town in northern Maine. I was connected to a Recovery Coach who guided me to a path of recovery that has changed my life forever.

But the change didn’t happen right away.

I went to detox in Portland, a rehab in Old Orchard and then sober living in Portland.

I did all the things and read all the books and learned alot about myself navigating sober living along with a recovery community that was so large and supportive.

I couldn’t go home for a long time and when I did it was against a court order and I got arrested for violating my probation.

The next eight months found me homeless, sleeping in my car in parking lots and rest areas up and down the interstate but thankfully, I still had a recovery community around me.

I no longer woke up obsessed with how I was going to get through the day. I didn’t have to worry about the things I didn’t have, or couldn’t do. I had choices that I could make, instead of everything being centered on finding and using substances.

Living in my car wasn’t a perfect option but I was living without substances, and remaining grateful for everything I had; this experience, and all the ones before, caused me to become humble.

Today, Lorie and I are just over three years into recovery. Before the pandemic, I was allowed by the courts to reunite with her in Auburn.

Together, we Recover Loud and we celebrate each milestone with the community. In June of 2020, we created a Facebook group, Recovery on the Road for shared connection, acceptance and hope.

In June of 2021, I was added to the Maine State Registry of Recovery Coaches and recently applied for my Alcohol and Drug Counselor’s Aide license. Today, I am attending an online course for a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice.

I count my blessings daily, knowing that just over three years ago, none of this would have been possible.

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