Rochester, N.Y. — For people dealing with substance abuse, the path to recovery can be intimidating and overwhelming.
Some of those who have been through the experience are now helping others in our community.
"This says whenever, wherever, forever," says Stephanie Forrester, pointing to a tattoo. "This was my husband's signature and his birthday and we lost him on Jan. 12, 2017 to an accidental overdose."
Forrester lost her husband, Justin, 100 days into her own recovery from drug abuse. Their son was just 10 at the time.
"The day I told him that his father passed away, he asked if it was an overdose, and he said, 'Is that what it meant when you and Daddy turned blue?'"
Forrester began using drugs in middle school. So did Patrick Burns, who entered rehab for the first time at 15.
"I just didn't care," Burns says. "I didn't care about myself or anything but when am I going to get high, how am I going to get high, where am I going to get high and get the money for it?"
That urge was the same for Matthew Faccenda, but his drug of choice was different.
"I was physically addicted to alcohol," he says.
The three share a similar past. Now, they share a common bond - centered on recovery.
"I found my purpose," Faccenda says, "by almost losing it."
Today, they're all friends working as peer advocates at Huther Doyle. They're part of the addiction treatment center's new mobile clinic, helping people get into - and keep up with - recovery. They hope to change the way people think about substance abuse to reduce stigmas and break down barriers to treatment.
"We're living proof that we can change and that we can be productive members of society and we can help others do that, too," Burns says.