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“It was here I realized I was not alone”

At the George Rosenfeld Center for Recovery dedication ceremony, Alfred, a 61-year-old ElderCare client spoke about his experience at Odyssey House. Below is the text of his speech.

Senior recovery centerGood morning. My name is Alfred, I am 61 years old, and a client in the ElderCare program. Fifteen months ago I came to Odyssey House as a longtime addict facing, in what time I had left, a life of loneliness and poor health. In two days, I will complete treatment and begin my new life in recovery, a healthier, happier, and more humble man.

It wasn’t easy to get here. I arrived determined to do things my way, even though “my way” had led to a near-fatal heart attack. The health effects of a lifetime of addiction had caught up with me and I was going to die if I didn’t get help. But still, I was arrogant and selfish. I thought I had all the answers, but I was only fooling myself.

Now, thanks to Odyssey House, I have the tools I need to live a successful life in recovery. My counselors challenged my thinking patterns and helped me see that I was using drugs to avoid the pain of confronting the damage I’ve done, to myself and to others, through my behaviors and actions. I have new coping skills – there will be bumps in the road, but now I know how to overcome them, and not use them as an excuse to use drugs again.

They also taught me to take care of myself – both physically and mentally. I live a healthier life now and the pain I had been living with for so long – it’s gone. And I know that I can’t help anybody unless I help myself first.

Being in treatment with people my own age made a big difference. Sitting in groups, talking to my peers, I realized that even though we come from different places, we all have the same underlying problem. Addiction is isolating – it makes you feel like you’re the only one going through this, especially at my age – but it was here I realized I was not alone.

I’ve come a long way from where I was. It’s tough to look back, but I won’t forget where I came from. I’m focused on the future, one filled with joy from being reunited with my supportive wife, and my relationships with children and grandchildren.

For far too long, I took life for granted. I’ll never do that again. You don’t get too many opportunities at my age, and because of the ElderCare program, I’m ready and able to make the most of this one. Odyssey House will always be a part of me. Thank you for restoring color, and sobriety, to my life.

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