Pronouns: He, His, Him
I am a Certified Behavioral Health Peer Support Specialist (CBHPSS) at Open Aid Alliance, also known as “Peer Support.” What does this mean? It means ten years ago I found myself completely dependent on opiates and wanting help to negotiate that landscape. It was confusing, demoralizing, full of bad, stigma laden, biased information - just plain horrific. Today as a Peer Support specialist, using a “Harm reduction approach/philosophy,” I attempt to guide people, with respect and compassion who use, who want to stop using, or who are somewhat ambivalent about their use navigate the choices available to them with self-respect and confidence. OAA’s Mission to “…work with the unique potential of each individual to overcome stigma as they seek greater health” is the perfect platform for me to do what I do.
There is a line in the recovery world that “we are only as sick as our secrets.” One secret we rarely talk about is how we are all dependent on something, that if taken away will rock our worlds, and anyone, no matter, age, education, sex, religious affiliation, wealth, whatever indicators you choose, has the capacity to be the “the hateful words we use” and the people we fear. Language is the window to the soul.
My family immigrated to the United States from Albania which makes me a first generation American. I received my education in NYC and Missoula MT where I received a BS Geology, BA Archeology, and a MS Environmental Studies along with reading about many angles on many things. I have driven cabs in New York City, Studied Grizzly Bears in the Yellowstone Ecosystem, and worked as a geologist around the world - also I’m in Recovery.