• Hazelden Renewal Center

My Recovery Story

Hi, my name is John Tolo. Here is my recovery story. I grew up in the toughest ghetto in New England outside of New York City. My family was the only white family in a neighborhood that was mostly Black and Hispanic. We moved there in 1972, at a time when racial tensions were high. Many Afro-Americans were angry and some felt pushed to the point of a violent lashing at the systems they believed were abusing them. I was nine when my father became part of an inner-city church and we moved into the middle of the area. It … Continue reading

After Treatment, Then What?

what to do after treatment

Treatment for addiction is only the beginning of recovery. What happens when you go back home? If you even have one anymore. Here are four stories of recovering addicts in midlife and how they meet their daily challenges while staying sober after treatment. Chris Arrowsmith Bagdon smoked off-the-street cannabis for two years to relieve ongoing pain from a brain concussion and to offset war combat flashbacks. One night he hit a batch that he suspects was laced with the drug PCP. “I started freaking out,” says Chris. It took four cops and a taser to intercept his violently out-of-control behavior. … Continue reading

What You Should Know About Addiction

In 2008, an estimated 20.1 million Americans aged 12 or older used illicit drugs within a month prior to a survey done by The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMSHA). This estimate represents 8 percent of that population. During that same time an estimated 22.2 million persons (8.9 percent of the population aged 12 or older) were classified with substance dependence or abuse in the past year based on criteria specified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV). Of these, 3.1 million were classified with dependence on or abuse of both alcohol and illicit … Continue reading

Amber’s Story

first person testimony

I haven’t always been known as a person in recovery, as a matter of fact a label that many knew me as is would be addict, meth-head, felon, thief, liar, and many more. I spent 14 long years loyal to a drug that should have killed me. Yet, I stand. My Life Then By the time I was 19-years-old, I had two children by two different fathers, was in college pursuing a degree, all the while working at 3M as an intern hoping that I would one day become an employee. I had always dreamed of working for such a … Continue reading

My Story: Getting Clean Young

getting sober young

I’m a person in long-term recovery from addiction. What that means to me, is that I haven’t picked up an alcoholic drink or drug since October 1981. I know to some of you that seems like eons. But to me, it still feels like yesterday. The pain of the end of my use was so acute that I couldn’t imagine surviving it. I had lost everyone — friends, colleagues, family — and the consequences of my use came down on me like a dump truck of bricks on my head. The onslaught of consequences was as relentless as my use … Continue reading

Laura’s Story

first person testimony

I grew up in a house with both parents and my older brother. Overall, I was a happy kid who liked school. But there was an undercurrent of pain, a secret I kept: I was abused as a young child. I never told anyone. I learned to hold onto that secret. I was introduced to weed and alcohol when I was 15 years old but since I was the good girl no one suspected me. The secrets kept building. I blamed my parents, I wanted to be a rebel. I moved out at 18 and danced in bars and nightclubs … Continue reading

On Hope

Not my typical morning ruminations, but this morning I woke up wondering about people in cars in ditches. Here’s the context: I’m on a trans-continental road trip with my 22-year-old son, destination Los Angeles. We opted for the southern route versus the Rockies to avoid Bad Winter Weather, and somewhere around Faribault, MN we encountered a raging snowstorm that blew us all the way to Enid, Oklahoma, 11 hours later. People plan, God laughs. As we passed car after spun-out car in the ditch, I felt myself becoming increasingly uncomfortable. Some people had clearly been rescued from their now abandoned … Continue reading

Offering Love to People Who Are Dying

hope for the dying

In the past few days, since news was shared that a beloved friend is dying, several people have come to me to ask what they can do. This friend is such an exquisite human; it is no surprise that so many people want to help and that there has been such a beautiful outpouring of love and kindness. After almost 18 years in the rabbinate, I’ve learned a few things about dying and loving and grieving and getting back up again. Here are some thoughts and suggestions that may be of help. I’m not an expert. This is simply what … Continue reading