September marks the 30th year of National Recovery Month. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration or SAMHSA, in 2017, 19.7 million adults in the U.S. experienced a substance abuse disorder. MTN recently talked with a man who has struggled most of his life with addiction, but with the help of proven programs and the support of others is winning his race on the road to recovery.
The trail hasn't always been smooth for Dean Snow.
“I was in active addiction for like 35 years,” said Dean
The active addiction nearly led the 49-year-old Chinook native and avid runner to prison.
“I honestly thought I was going to die an addict,” said Dean.
He managed to avoid jail, but even while on probation, struggled with his addiction to meth, heroin and opioids.
“Once I went to treatment, I had no intention of staying clean,” said Dean. “I thought I would go there just to make everyone happy, get out and just go back to what I was doing you know.”
About two weeks into treatment at the Montana Chemical Dependency Center in Butte (https://dphhs.mt.gov/amdd/MCDC), Dean took inventory of damaging his drug dependence had become.
“All the things that I lost and the relationships with my family, my kids. I guess I can thank treatment, it was a safe environment,” said Dean. “It's exactly what I needed."
He begrudgingly moved to Great Falls where he immersed himself in recovery, learning to love his new surroundings while putting his life back together.
“It's kind of been like a country song played backwards,” said Dean. “I'm kind of getting stuff back that I lost and you know it's just amazing.”
The recovery process has meant a reconnection with family.
“My oldest daughter was adopted as a baby because of addiction,” said Dean. “She contacted me on Facebook and I got to meet her here in Great Falls, she plays softball so that was really exciting.”
He's working on mending relationships with his son and other daughter. He's also found a new calling, helping others in recovery as a peer counselor as a peer support specialist at Gateway Community Services, an addiction treatment center in Great Falls.
“It’s honestly amazing that I'm still alive I think at times,” said Dean. “Obviously I have a purpose and I hope this is it because hopefully I can instill some hope and help someone else that was in the same position.”
Part of his journey has included joining the Sober Life, a group of like-minded people in recovery he compares to family who gather for activities ranging from volleyball to painting to bowling.
“One of the things I hear is recovery is boring,” said Dean. “I've found since I've found recovery it's been far from boring.”
As he prepares for the Sober Life's upcoming Recovery Run, he has words of encouragement for others who may be struggling.
“Don't be afraid to ask for help. It’s not a weakness to ask for help,” said Dean. “One of the strongest things you can do is ask for help.”
Dean will hit the pavement Friday for the Sober Life’s Recovery Run.
It’s free and begins at 5:30 at the pavilion at West Bank Park. The 5k run/walk starts at 6 and the 1 mile run/walk starts at 6:15.
For more information follow the Sober Life’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/events/915069165500766/)
Here are links for more information on recovery resources:
National Recovery Month: https://recoverymonth.gov/
Rocky Mountain Treatment Center: https://rehabrocky.com/
Gateway Community Services: http://gatewayrecovery.org/