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To The Professionals That Care

“It’s nice to see you!” said a woman with a warm smile. Her words were genuine and her eyes had shown care. This woman is a counselor at First Step Detox through Recovery Network of Programs (RNP) in Bridgeport, CT. Her name is Denise and she was one of the several staff members that helped start my recovery process.

It was my first day at the detox facility and I was at my most vulnerable stage of my recovery. I was physically and mentally exhausted and full of pain. I had an immense amount of guilt and shame from my relapse. When Denise greeted me, a complete stranger, with sincere words and a smile, for the first time I felt feelings of hope and comfort. Those feelings kept increasing as I met more staff members that cared about my recovery and mental wellness.

After I was released from the detox facility, I became a patient at their agency’s Intensive Outpatient facility called Recovery Empowerment Counseling Center (RECC). Just like in detox, I still felt feelings of guilt and shame when entering this program, until I met my counselor, Melissa. Melissa has provided guidance, support, encouragement, and compassion each session I had with her, whether it was individual or in a group setting. Besides my assigned sessions, she always told me that her “door was always open” if I needed anything. I tested her words and came in a few times. Her door was always open. She listened to my fears and concerns then provided compassion and guidance. She allowed my voice to be heard and used her compassion to help find a solution to my problems.

Through this agency and the staff of it, I was able to not only start my journey of recovery, but I was also able to maintain it. I used to believe that professionals were mainly doing their job because it was strictly that; a job. I had been treated poorly by professionals, so it was hard for me to build a trust with any. RNP staff showed me that people do care about the duties of their job, despite the compensation for performing those duties. These staff members and many others went above and beyond their job description to make sure that I was loved, supported, encouraged, and motivated.

Denise had no idea that a smile was going to be what welcomed me into recovery. She also had no idea that her smile was going to be what I thought about on hard days. There were times where I faced temptation and trials, feeling close to relapsing, and had thought to myself, “Denise and Melissa wouldn’t want me to use again”. They had helped me without even being a client of theirs anymore.

So to the professionals that care, thank you, for doing more than your job requirements. Thank you for saving lives, continually showing support, and guiding people to find their wellness every day. That smile you give, helps someone more than you can imagine and may have intended.

2 Replies to “To The Professionals That Care”

  1. Michael says:


    thanks for sharing! I love that you broke down how we can all connect better with the very basic yet powerful element of authenticity and compassion. I am sorry you didn’t always get treated with respect from providers.

    I too have been blessed with a few people that have supported my recovery in my life, and it often came in unexpected “packages.”

    One example was years ago at a previous job. I came in totally anxious and stressed -the kind of day when you didn’t want to look people in the eye or talk to anyone. I was working in a retail store, ready with my “armor” on, giving people the very best I could handle.

    Then, the flood of emotions hit me. I remember walking into the back of the store, feeling overwhelmed. I then went into the back office and broke down crying with one of my managers.

    I remember feeling so embarrassed and ashamed that I “couldn’t handle” keeping my personal life at home (as some managers said.) Yet we all know that emotions are not that simple.

    My manager let me release my emotions and gently talked with me for about 45 minutes, and then let me go home, no judgement, punishment, or shame. THAT is a moment of recovery, and I would also consider that peer support. I still remember that moment, so I totally get that how people can play a huge role in allowing you to rediscover life and yourself.

  2. RaiC says:

    This means so much…. at this level in recovery, one would think that more people assisting in this process would be more like Denise. It makes all of the difference when people treat others with respect, empathy and compassion… especially when going through such a powerful transition. To work with young adults and people in recovery means that you must have the ability to be open, non judgmental and you have to remember that this “work” does not stop or start on the clock. Everyone’s journey is so different so it takes a certain kind of person to understand that and be able to work through it.

    It’s def unfortunate that you’ve had your fair share of mistreatment but meeting people like Denise, sure helps to overcome all of that I hope.

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