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The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Apr 22, 2019

The New Face of Addiction and Recovery

Submitted by Melissa Mackolin

Melissa Mackolin Middletown NJ Addiction

The face of addiction in America is not what you think. Addiction is not just the man who lives under a bridge or the person who begs for change on the street. It’s the high school football star who started using pain pills after an injury before progressing to heroin. It’s your neighbor’s husband who has a great job but drinks when he gets home every night until he passes out. It’s the prom queen, and the college student who stays up all night studying on stimulants, and the kid next door whom you’ve known your whole life that gets taken away in an ambulance when he overdoses. The face of addiction, and recovery, is me.

By all accounts, my life is normal. I get up and go to work each day, have a home with my significant other and my dog. I go to the gym, spend time with friends, and watch Netflix like everyone else. I had a good upbringing in Lincroft and went to a Catholic school. Despite these things, I struggled with addiction. The fact is that it doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from, no one is immune to the disease of addiction. However, the amazing thing is that anyone is able to recover. The only thing you have to do is come forward and ask for help.

For me, asking for help was the hardest thing. It was harder than continuing to use.  I was ashamed, I was scared, and I didn’t know where to turn. I had no idea there were people who cared or resources that were available to me. I didn’t know if I could ever get better. Most of all, I worried what people would think of me. My old friends, my parents, people in the neighborhood. What would they say if I told them I was an addict? Addiction still has a strong stigma, even though nearly one in five people will be affected by it.

Melissa Mackolin

Melissa Mackolin

When I was using, I never imagined that I could recover. I didn’t think a life like the one I have today was possible. I felt I was doomed forever. But when I finally came forward and asked for help, everything changed. It was a long journey with many ups and downs, but today I am nearly four years sober. Today I live my life with the purpose of helping others, which, if you had known me back then, you never would have believed. My goal is to show anyone who is still struggling that there is a way out, to show anyone who has a friend, a sibling, a child who is using that there is hope. No one is doomed. No one is hopeless. No one is too far gone. No matter what we think of ourselves or of others who are battling addiction, it is possible to turn everything around. Whether you’ve tried to get sober a million times before and failed, or are about to take the leap into recovery for the first time, all you have to do is come forward and ask for help, and you can find a better life. I know the fear that comes with admitting you’re an addict firsthand, and I also know the joys recovery can bring.

The overdose rate in our country keeps rising. In 2017, more than 68,000 people across the nation suffered a fatal drug overdose. In 2018, that number rose to more than 72,000. I strongly believe that to prevent more deaths we, as a community, need to open up a dialogue surrounding addiction. There are so many people who are struggling in silence like I was, people who are afraid to come forward and ask for help. There may be parents or friends who see a young person is struggling but don’t know what to say or what to do. I’m telling you there are resources available. There are professionals and a community of recovering addicts like myself who are able to show an addict the way out. I work with a large network of addiction treatment facilities, Banyan Treatment Center, with locations nationwide, including one in nearby Langhorne, Pennsylvania. If you or anyone you know is struggling, please call me directly on my cell phone at 732-427-1294. We can figure this out together.