"The beauty of a sustained recovery."

My name is Kendall and I am a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist living in long-term recovery. For me, that means I am no longer abusing heroin, cocaine, or alcohol. 

A little about me: I am a high school graduate, I attended a local college for 2 years, had a wonderful career in the biotech field, was married at age 22, am the mother of two sons, had a house, and loved vacations long before these issues plagued my life.

But, I am also the child who grew up in foster care early on. My older brother and I moved back with my biological mother when I was about eight years old. Things were incredibly unstable for us. There was sometimes no food—my mother often left us to fend for ourselves. The house was filthy to the point I even once had a roach in my ear. Yes, a roach! My mother was suffering from alcoholism because of traumas she experienced early in her own life. This left her not fully capable of raising her own children. My brother would often shoplift in order for us to eat. I just thought we were going for walks, and it always ended with a glazed donut. Life went on from there, and I experienced even more trauma after moving to Baltimore with my biological father. 

After moving to Baltimore, I experienced childhood molestation. Because of these traumas, I later spent quite a bit of time in psychiatric hospitals. I was very angry, and did not want to deal with my issues because I thought they were too painful. I later went on to experience a full-blown addiction including alcohol, cocaine, and heroin. During this time, my mother passed away from an illness acquired after getting sober. As you could imagine, my addiction truly spiraled out of control. My number one priority became staying numb to my reality. I was an addict, and I needed help.

In 2010, I went to a facility that helped me deal with both my mental health and addiction. There, I received several mental health diagnoses and learned about my addiction, receiving the necessary treatment to better my life.

After 10 months clean, I volunteered with a peer support team to aid new clients in navigating the program and assisting as needed. I assisted the clients with filling out paperwork for supportive services, escorting them to appointments, and providing support as they acclimated themselves to the new environment.

The theory of peer support is that individuals seeking recovery sometimes have better outcomes when connecting with others also seeking recovery.

Now grateful that someone saw something in me that I was not able to see in myself, I love the work I am doing. I am able to provide a service that is meaningful and gives a sense of hope to those we treat here at Sheppard Pratt Health System. I facilitate groups and meet with individuals one-on-one, and now I work as a discharge coordinator.

The opportunity to work in a facility where I was once a patient is more than a miracle, and that is the beauty of a sustained recovery. As a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist, I find it an honorable responsibility to serve in the capacity of providing living, breathing, tangible evidence that recovery is possible. In addition, I do not take this responsibility lightly. I believe that lives can be changed and restored. I absolutely love my job and cannot ever imagine doing anything else.   

Kendall is a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist. She works as a discharge coordinator at Sheppard Pratt Health System.