Avery came to the doors of 255 Division Avenue in late 2019 hoping to be admitted into Guiding Light Recovery. At 25 years old, he is much younger than the average age of men accepted into the program. This is both a heartening and disquieting trend we are seeing as of late. On one hand, it is good to see that young men in the community are seeking and getting the help they need earlier in their lives. On the other, public health issues such as the opioid crisis and the rising rates of addiction and deaths at younger and younger ages associated with it is dismaying to see.
Avery is a welcome example of the successful treatment and overcoming of substance abuse that happens here every day at Guiding Light. He came into the program two days before his 25th birthday, where the average client age is 38 years old. Seven weeks into his stay at Guiding Light, Avery was appointed by Program Director, Brian Elve, to be the House Manager for his peers in Recovery. As the youngest man in the program, it was his responsibility to make sure everything ran smoothly, that all the chores got done, that the men knew where to be and when, and to be the communication link between staff and clients. “If you know Avery, he can be a bit of a goofy, high-energy guy,” Elve said. “Seven or eight weeks into the program, when we usually have men that are a little bit more seasoned in the program, we called on Avery to lead the pack, and I didn’t know how that was going to go. When I think of Avery, it turned out that he had this kind of bulldog mentality. He was going to tell it like it was. If a guy was late or wasn’t doing his chores, Avery told him.”
“I think of courage, when I hear this young man say ‘I don’t like the direction my life is going right now and I don’t want to continue going this way, and I want to make a change’. So the details, to me, aren’t important about Avery’s story…It’s his commitment to change and him saying ‘I think it’s going to be worth it if I sacrifice some things now.’ So to see Avery here tonight with his mother…it’s awesome.”
Avery has been sober for over a year, and on October 20th, 2020, was able to come back to 255 to celebrate by putting his name on the “Wall of Sobriety” at Guiding Light Recovery. The wall signifies the men that went through the program, moved to Iron House, and achieved long-term recovery.
Avery had a chance to speak to staff-members and current clients of Guiding Light Recovery and share some of the wisdom he has picked up along the way. He prepared a list of ten of the most important things he learned during his time at Guiding Light.
1 – “The first thing on that list is that my words do not mean a whole lot, and that my actions mean everything.”
2 – “If I don’t power through my fears without displaying some vulnerability, I will, in a sense, become those fears.”
3 – “I won’t do anything that I am truly not willing to do.”
4 – “If someone does me wrong or if I feel somebody does, I am still responsible for cleaning my side of the street and admitting my wrongdoing in a situation.”
5 – “I do not need to think about my entire life at one time, the old cliché of ‘living one day at a time’ is really one of the truest things I know.”
6 – “The actions of others do not have to take away from my sobriety or my recovery, I get to choose whether or not the actions of others affect me.”
7 – “I am the product of how I react to the world around me.”
8 – I am the product of the ten people I keep closest to me.”
9 – “I am worthy of a good life.”
10 – “I am capable of giving that good life to myself with the tools that I now have.”
There are many facets of the Guiding Light Recovery program that make it work, but if we had to choose one, it would be distilled down to Avery’s 10th lesson. We give men the tools to learn how to have hope again and to live life differently. Even young men like Avery come through our doors set in their ways, unable to see any way to even begin to turn things around; that achieving anything remotely resembling long-term sobriety seems impossible. But Avery is living proof that there is a light at the end of the tunnel if you are willing.
Coming to terms with the spiritual, mental, and physical costs of addiction is not an easy task for anyone, at any age. Avery is a shining example of what Guiding Light can do if you are honest and willing to follow suggestions and stay the course here. He was in the Recovery program for four months, found employment, and eventually moved out to Iron House. Our method of giving men a safe environment to recover and then gradually easing them back into life has proven to be very successful for our clients (77% of which achieve long-term sobriety.)
“So, shoutout to Guiding Light Recovery, its an amazing program, and I couldn’t be more grateful for it,” Avery said. It is important that men have a place like Guiding Light Recovery to get better. Every man that comes through here, follows our suggestions, learns how to stay sober and moves on to live a fulfilling life, has a huge net positive effect for society at large. The only cost for men to be accepted into our social programs is their work ethic, honesty, and willingness to change. This is only made possible through the generous support of our community. We would like to thank you all, from the bottom of our hearts, for all that you do for us. Without you, stories like Avery’s would not be possible.
THIS MEANS THAT ANYONE WHO BELONGS TO CHRIST HAS BECOME A NEW PERSON. THE OLD LIFE IS GONE; A NEW LIFE HAS BEGUN!
2 CORINTHIANS 5:17