My journey started on Sunday, December 6, 2020. The first day I put a drink and drug down and wanted to change my entire life! My name is James Lee Monahan, I go by Jamie, and life has been hard for the past 20+ years. Drugs and alcohol had taken over my entire life, mind, decisions, actions, family, and more. Everyone in addiction always talks about the worst day, but I would like to focus on the first day in recovery. Today, I am two years and two months sober from addiction and it is the longest clean time I have had since I was 15 years old. I have been supported my entire life by my family and friends, but I never supported myself. I had no hope, purpose, self-worth, or self-confidence to even change. I was blinded by the thrills of addiction which ran my entire life.
I walked into a Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center for the second time in my life on Monday, December 28, 2020. This time I was ready and willing to surrender my life to someone else. I was scheduled to attend for 22 days, but it was extended to 71 days. I needed every minute of treatment. My drinking started in high school but when I graduated, I earned an athletic football scholarship to an NCAA Division 2 university where I was introduced to cocaine almost immediately. In one semester’s time, I lost everything and had to leave school. The world as I knew it, and my innocence were over, well at least it felt that way. I thought I had let everyone around me down. That guilt infected my actions for the next 22 years.
Without boring everyone who may read this with my life story I will let you know that while I may have lived a life that some would say was mildly successful, and charmed in the two decades that followed my introductions to drugs and alcohol. There were two massive things missing, both ate at my soul. The biggest was my education, next was that I had a secret that those I loved most did not know. I was an addict!
By choosing to hide my feelings that I was in fact an addict who was their own worst enemy, I paid the ultimate price, I sacrificed my personal happiness and that of those I loved most. My jobs and marriage suffered, to the point of termination and divorce.
My reputation was dragged through the mud and my integrity was called into question. I had to change, I had to turn it around, I had to save my life! It started with treatment and taking the suggestions of those who knew better than I did. Next was school, after being discharged from treatment after 71 days, yes, we all are not fixed after 28! I needed to start writing my playbook. I needed to put together a team and needed to win.
I enrolled at Luzerne County Community College and was immediately taken by the people on their staff and the guidance that was given to me by the administration of the AllOne Recovery Education Institute and the faculty and staff at that amazing institution. I applied myself, making the Dean’s List my first semester and becoming immersed in the culture of my new life (sobriety), and my new surroundings (academia) so much had changed in my 20-year absence. Finding a way to connect now with my community and people who still need to find it inside themselves to be motivated to change has become the reason I exist.
I am involved with local non-profits, find joy in helping others and have recently been asked to sit on the founding advisory board of a charity targeting the sigma and prevention of suicide and mental health. This past fall I was looking toward my future and where I could go next to find the right path and people to guide me to the future, I am destined to walk in. I chose to apply to King’s College, because of the Vision, Mission, and Integrity of this institution are aligned with the path I continue to now walk on, and this fine school awarded me the honor of becoming a recipient of the Blessed Moreau Scholarship.
I want to use this opportunity to raise awareness that addiction is everywhere and affects everyone. In anticipation of my joining my new family of Monarchs in the fall of 2024, I am already starting to become active in our About-Face informative and educational Campaign on campus. The About-Face Informational Marketing Campaign is sponsored by AllOne Health, and is to raise awareness and to help battle the stigma of opioid addiction on our campus as it affects students of all ages and walks of life.
If anyone reading this article is struggling with addiction or knows anyone who is, please know that you are not alone and there are resources to help us help each other. Understanding and realizing you are not alone, and we ought not to be ashamed is vital in fighting this war which has always been going on.
Anyone interested in learning more about this program should direct all inquiries to Mr. William Bolan, Director of Shoval Center of Community Engagement. God Bless and Go Monarchs!