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Recovering in Alpena

Posted to MichiganNow.org on Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Alpena’s economy doesn’t compete with the other towns on the west side of the northern lower. Expressway planners in the 1960’s didn’t include them. The area lacks the hills for planting orchards and building a ski industry. It lacks connections to the big lake. And the region didn’t get the same bounce that once depressed towns like Boyne City got in the 1990’s. This means harder lives for young people.

Here’s Part 2 with Chris Wright.

Wright: “It actually took the legal system to give me a kick in the butt.”

CMC: “What did the judge say?”

Wright: “I ended up in drug court for a crime. I gave someone some pain killers. And they were working with Huron Under Cover Narcotics Team. Drug court is a good program. It’s an alternative to prison or jail. They introduce you to residential treatment or the twelve step outpatient treatment. They hold jail or prison time in abeyance over your head. They give you the chance to clean up or face your punishment. That’s your option. I was so badly addicted to alcohol at the time that I was in drug court that I had to go to residential treatment for more than two months.

“I had to learn about myself all over again. I started drinking and drugging when I was 14 and I never stopped. That’s twenty years of it. I had no idea who I was. But in my mind, being an addict, I was convinced that I was a horrible person and didn’t want to get to know myself. That’s why I numbed out for so long. After residential treatment, I’m ok with a boring normal life now.

“It takes people to hold me accountable for my actions. If I do slip up I have to be held accountable for that because I’m learning it’s not ok for me to just be a drunk and an addict. I surrounded myself with other alcoholics and addicts my whole life so I never had to be held accountable for drinking and drugging because that was just the norm. In my mind everybody did it. There are addicts everywhere, not just here in Alpena. And it doesn’t matter what your position is, social, financial or your job.”

CMC: “You would meet up with other uses that are professionals?”

Wright: “Different status. Yes. I’ve lived in Lansing and Muskegon. Addiction doesn’t care if you’re a lawyer or a person living in the gutter. It doesn’t discriminate.”

CMC: “So now how are you planning on improving your life?”

Wright: “Work is really important. I’m trying to find a job. That’s the first step for me. I also have a lot of relationships to rebuild. I’m happy that those people are open to that because they’ve seen the improvement. I care about my recovery and when I do make mistakes I try to learn from them instead of saying ‘it’s ok cause I’m just a drunk.”

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