Addiction and recovery are both topics that are unfortunately highly stigmatized, making seeking help often harder than it ought to be. Between societal judgement and shame around the process, and simply not knowing where to turn, getting treatment and sticking with it is extremely difficult. This is why being real and vulnerable about the subject of addiction is so important—it can not only turn one’s world around, but save a life. Eric Paskin, who has firsthand experience with the matter, is taking his past and story and sharing it to raise awareness, help normalize the conversation, and empower those seeking recovery, which he also does through his treatment center, Restore Health + Wellness Center.
Q: Was there a final snapping point for you during the days you were using that made you seek help?
Eric: I don’t think there was one particular thing that occurred, it was rather a culmination of things. I had literally no relationships with anyone of any meaning or value, anyone who I loved no longer wanted anything to do with me, I had several drug dealers looking for me that I had robbed, and I felt helpless and hopeless. My life was pretty much in shambles.
Q: What is some advice that helped you get sober? Do you have any advice for others?
Eric: One piece of advice that I would give to people trying to get sober is to not give up. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and it seems daunting when your entire life all you’ve done is use drugs and alcohol to numb, cope, and survive, when you stop using everything feels intense and you have to just continue to walk through the uncomfortable feelings because they’re going to pass. And I can’t explain it but one day you’ll wake up and things won’t seem as daunting and overwhelming—life will seem to be getting better.
Q: What have you seen through your years working in recovery, to be the most powerful or helpful part of it for most patients?
Eric: After working in addiction treatment for over 12 years the thing that continues to amaze me is when clients buy into their own personal recovery. I always believe the most powerful thing that occurs is the connection and the camaraderie the clients build to help support one another. The people who I met in early recovery are still some of my closest friends and I still turn to them in my own life.
Q: What is the hardest part about recovery?
Eric: For me it was absolutely learning to live without drugs. I spend over a decade basically using every day and not living, so having to relearn basic living skills is daunting.
Q: What is a common misconception about recovery?
Eric: I think most people have this idea that they are going to go to treatment and bam 30-45 days later they’re going to be fixed. That is a set up for huge failure. I like to compare recovery to a marathon, or more appropriately one of those crazy ultra-marathons. I’m clean over 13 years and I still have to work on my own personal recovery. Sometimes I feel like I’m gliding along, and everything is going smoothly, other days it’s an uphill climb and things feel really hard. That’s fucking life.
Q: What about some words of wisdom or inspiration to anyone who is currently facing addiction?
Eric: I don’t believe that there are any magical words of wisdom I can impart on anyone. I think that people struggling with addiction shouldn’t give up no matter how hard stopping seems—it’s possible to stop and change the quality and the conditions of their lives. I’m living proof that it’s possible and there are millions of others who have managed to create incredible lives that once seemed like fairy tales.