The story of recovery coach: Chris Hall
As Ascent continues to grow and expand to new treatment centers, we are constantly reminded just how invaluable our coaches and support team are. Without recovery coaches and supervisors being accessible 24/7/365, Ascent wouldn’t be what it is. These coaches make it possible for people in recovery to have that constant access and support because as we know, recovery is a lifetime. Today we will be highlighting the story of Chris Hall, one of Ascent’s peer coaches.
Chris’ struggle with addiction
“Admitting I had a problem and my life was no longer manageable. Well, there was little doubt about that and I knew it. After 14 years of OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin and heroin, the hamster wheel got an upgrade and started moving a lot faster,” said Chris. He had supported his habit by driving a cab. Since his dealer needed to be paid every day and child support took a back seat, it wasn’t getting paid, and Cuyahoga County suspended his license. Chris still drove the cab for six months after that, but it was fooling with the cab company’s money that eventually got him fired. With no daily cash source and a wife that wasn’t working–and also addicted–he knew he had a problem. “Getting fired was actually a temporary relief,” said Chris. “If for some reason I got pulled over, that would be big trouble. What if I killed someone while I was driving high. They hand out five year sentences for aggravated vehicular homicide as the appetizer, then the circumstances of the wreck constituted the main course. I had been lucky so far.” Chris had zero accidents and one arrest, which actually ended up getting “no-billed” by a county grand jury. In 2005, county grand juries indicted about 14,000 people while only around 400 got off clean. He felt lucky.
With no job, no hustle and the need to stop using heroin, Chris went to detox for the first time. Rosary Hall at St. Vincent Charity Hospital wasn’t as bad as he thought it would be. Compared to county jail in 2003, Rosary was a picnic for Chris. His trouble started after detox.
“My mother, who died of cirrhosis of the liver at 43 from alcoholism, didn’t like AA. She grew up going to Catholic church because her mother did, but I wasn’t raised to believe in God,” said Chris. “Not having a higher power to ‘let go’ to pray to, to have faith in, is a real hurdle when doing the AA thing. Eventually I did find a higher power though. It is called ‘faith.’ I read a book called Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl in a Morals and Ethics class at Cleveland State. Frankl survived a Nazi concentration camp on the faith that he would survive. It was his faith in the goodness of mankind that got him through. I used that as my higher power…and it worked.” It took Chris another five years of faith and nearly losing his arm to an abscess that finally got him sober.
“When I saw the ad for the Peer Supporter position at Ascent, I jumped on it,” said Chris. “One of the things I did while getting sober, then relapsing, then getting sober, was staying at and then running a homeless shelter and meal site on Cleveland’s West side. The privilege of helping people was the greatest gift I had ever received.” Chris knew that working with Ascent would be a great opportunity for him while also helping him stay strong in his recovery. “Knowing that helping people stay sober was a way to help keep myself sober, plus the fact that I had experienced just about every negative thing there is during my years of addiction, led me to apply so I could help another addict.” Chris lamented that it isn’t how you fall down, but how you pick yourself back up. Chris sees Ascent as a way to pass on his experience and knowledge to other people who are struggling with addiction so that he can help them pick themselves back up.
Chris now has seven years of sobriety after a 14-year battle with opiate and heroin addiction. He grew up alone with an alcoholic mother who was emotionally abusive. He started using drugs and alcohol when he was 14 after his mother died of liver disease and he moved in with a foster family. He spent the next 30 years trying the maintain various habits with a variety of jobs. Now, he is an important part of a company that provides addiction-recovery support to treatment centers and people all over. Chris couldn’t be happier to have turned his life around and is thankful for the opportunity to be able to help others.
Everyone in recovery has a different story about how they escaped addiction and found recovery. What matters most is that there are people like Chris who were able to find their way to recovery through support and determination. We’re lucky to have recovery coaches like Chris and look forward to continuing to help others escape addiction and find hope.