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Peer counselors help achieve recovery through experience

Erica Zucco
November 22, 2017 05:46 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- New Mexicans struggling with opioid addiction know how tough it can be to get clean, but Mark Garnand said he’s proof getting sober from drugs and alcohol is possible.

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“Why shouldn't we expect recovery from addiction, from alcoholism? It’s the same way people expect recovery from other diseases,” Garnand said.

But Garnand said after years of drinking and using drugs, it took a trip to the courtroom on a driving under the influence charge to really change.

“I was sentenced to mandatory AA meetings, mandatory AA counseling, and that’s really where I learned about recovering -- going to AA meetings saying ‘Hey, there's a lot of people out there that have my same problem,” Garnand said.

Garnand said inspiration from former drinkers and drug users turned that requirement into a lifeline. They understood things no one else could.

“I would go three months, six months and then relapse. And with my drug of choice, I would be gone and out for five days at a time and left with no money after that,” Garnand said. “It was always a negative. My family, my spouse at the time said ‘You idiot, you relapsed.’ My counselor would say, ‘You've been clean six months, relapsed five days; put that into a percentage.”

Now, Garnand is working as a peer counselor and encourages other two-year sober New Mexicans to apply for a program training and employing former drinkers and users as peer counselors.

“If we survive those experiences, the greatest thing we can do with that is share that with others,” Garnand said.

To apply to become a counselor or to learn about getting into counseling, click here.

Credits

Erica Zucco

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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