Today we are sharing a true life testimony of addiction and recovery from a woman named Allison Fernando. Let's give her some love, support and encouragement for openly sharing her experience, strength and hope with us.
Q: Could you briefly tell us about yourself?
My name is Allison Fernando. I was born and raised in Schuylkill County. I grew up the first 23 years of my life in New Philadelphia. I currently am a resident of Pottsville, PA where I raise my two children and live with my very loving and supportive fiancé Josh Hubler. I am an employee of Dunkin Donuts and I am currently pursuing my career in the Medical field by attending school the hours I am not a work. My passion is to work in a rehabilitation or incarceration setting, because I believe everyone deserves a second chance. I am honored to be able to share with you all to enlighten a little more of the aspects of addiction.
Q: What was your drug of choice?
For me, my drug of choice was whatever I could get my hands on. It started out for me as alcohol, then marijuana. By 16, I had upgraded to methamphetamine for a long run. As the years went on and the using continued, I had experimented into all drugs, I also continued with the use of each of them for they were my escape from reality.
Q: What is your sobriety date?
My sobriety date is February 7, 2014. I refer to that day as God saving my children's lives.
Q: Looking back, was there a turning point during your active addiction?
From the moment I picked up that first mood altering substance, I had to "need for more" attitude. I didn't see it that way at that moment in time till looking back. I would have to say though that my underlining problem into why my using became more and more active was grief and bullying. When I was 14 years old, I had lost my mother to cancer. I didn't know how to deal with such a tragic experience for she was my world. Along with that came stress, which caused most of my hair to fall out. Not having or finding a place to fit in my self esteem started to dwindle more and more. I got into a bad crowd at that point, and realized when I was high I did not feel the pain. Needless to say, using became an everyday thing at that point on.
Q: What is a slogan that best expresses your current point of view in recovery?
"So long as I follow that way, I have nothing to fear" To me that message sticks out to me, it is simple and helps guide me to follow my path in recovery. I have had it tattooed onto my arm, I use it as my remembrance of what it was like, and how easy it is to fall back to that if I do not continue with my recovery.
Q: What are some daily practices and key aspects in your life that assist you in your recovery?
Some daily practices for me are to often reflect of my past and what brought me into recovery. It is important for me to never forget how bad my addiction took me. I keep positive people and support in my life, and stray away from the negative. I had to make many changes in my life but it was necessary in order to live a life free of distractions and temptations. Everyday is a journey for me and I am learning and growing each day because of keeping an open mind.
Q: As a person in recovery, do you have any advice you could offer to someone looking to get clean?
The best advice I can offer is to be open minded, and at least try. Also as hard as it may be at times, be HONEST with yourself. I know personally for me, the miracle did not start until I finally surrendered to my pride, and became honest within myself.
Q: Addiction is affecting hundreds in Schuylkill County and abroad. It's very saddening. Any advice to people trying to help their loved ones to seek help?
To any one who is trying to help, I commend you for being a huge support. Some advice I can give is that today, we are at an way higher advantage then before. There are many agencies abroad offering services, whether it be counseling, outpatient treatment, or inpatient. Utilize resources such as the Internet. The Internet has become such a powerful tool to find agencies that offer help. I myself, was able to get into a long term treatment program that also offered the opportunity to be able to take my children with me.
:Q: Why are projects like "The Skook Recovers" important in this day and age?
These projects are extremely important because we all think we have an idea of what an addict and what addiction is. The Skook Recovers offers a message of hope, experiences on a personal level, and helps break the stigma and stereotype of addiction in order to place a better more compassionate understanding of the disease into the hearts and minds of all.
Q: Could you tell us about the good things that your new life in recovery has brought to you and/or improved, including what you are grateful for?
My life today is wonderful. I still have hardships and stressors like we all do, but I have learned how to deal with them in a positive, healthy manner. I have my own place again, am engaged to an absolutely wonderful man, a hard working employee and am furthering my education in order to build a career. My gratitude list goes on and on but what stands out to me is I finally have inner peace.
Q: Anything else you would like to add and/or people you would like to thank?
To anyone reading who struggles. Please cut yourself a break and know you are a good person and that help is available. I would like to thank everyone who has supported me along the way. Although we no longer speak because of a direct result of my addiction. I would like to thank my Uncle Keith and Aunt Lori, they seen fit to extend their hand of help one last time to get me into treatment. For that I am forever grateful because without them I never would have opened my heart to admitting I needed help and accepted the help. They truly saved my life and opened a promising future for my children as well. Incase you guys read this, I love you! Remember all who suffer from addiction or a family member you all are never alone. Reach out for help and you can be guided. All you all are is one step away from a miracle. I would like to thank "The Skook Recovers" for giving me this opportunity. God Bless and keep fighting the fight!! Thank you All.