I grew up in an upper middle class home and had good parents who loved and provided for me. That didn’t prevent me from developing a drug addiction that nearly took my life. I always recognized that there was a hole inside of me, and I had walked down many roads to try to fill the void. I tried everything, including athletics and academia, before I eventually found what seemed to work the best: drugs and alcohol.

My substance use started about age 12.

I was in love from the beginning. Drugs provided a relief to anxiety, an identity, and a way to escape all of the guilt and shame that I already felt in my adolescence. I never really functioned well during my use, and frequently switched from one drug to another in order to try to “make it work,” with the least amount of consequences possible.

By the time I graduated high school, I already had several encounters with the legal system, and had been introduced to 12-step meetings. I had always taken pity on those who “needed” to quit, as I couldn’t
imagine my life without drugs and alcohol.


In those meetings, I heard people telling my story. I finally felt the sense of belonging that I had been searching for all along.

I left home, began using more often, and eventually started to suffer worse consequences. I lost my scholarship to a local college, and started daily drug use to continue to bury my feelings of inadequacy. As I was arrested for my second OVI (operating a vehicle while impaired), I began to realize that I had lost the power to choose. I required drugs and alcohol in order to simply feel okay, but the more I took, the more consequences I amassed. I started to lose friends, even my drug-friends. I lost girlfriends and jobs. Finally, I decided to make an attempt on my own life.

I know that God intervened to save me that night. I woke in the hospital and decided that drugs and alcohol were a big part of my problem, and decided to quit.

Four days later I began using again.


Soon I was crossing all of the boundaries I had set for myself. We all tell ourselves things: “I won’t ever use needles,” or “I won’t ever steal.” Then, we break those promises when our disease takes hold.

I was resigned to the fact that drugs and alcohol would take my life. I began to behave like I would never face the consequences of my actions. One night, I blacked out behind the wheel on a mix of opiates and alcohol. I plowed into a parked car near my home and was arrested for the final time.

As the cuffs were placed on my hands, I remember thinking that maybe there was a “way out.”

I knew I would be heading back into the system that had tried to help me so many times, except this time I knew I needed answers. I needed a new way to live. After being released from jail, I went to counseling and began attending 12-step meetings again. I hoped that the fellowship. I had previously turned from would welcome me back.


I am living proof that people can and do recover

In those meetings, I heard people telling my story. I finally felt the sense of belonging that I had been searching for all along. Shortly afterward, I began inpatient treatment. I realized that my life may have a new purpose: to help those who are suffering from alcohol and drugs. That quest gave my life new meaning. I completed my education from the college that I had been kicked out of years ago. Shortly after, I entered into the field of chemical dependency counseling in a suburb of Dayton, Ohio.

Recently, Dayton was labeled the epicenter of the opiate crisis.

I am proud to stand up and say that there is hope, even in the “most addicted city in America.” I am living proof that people can and do recover. Today, I am proud to call myself a person in long-term recovery, which for me means that I have not taken a drink or a drug for over 11 years.

I now find myself in a position to advocate for those in recovery in my city and around the nation. I am a member of one of the strongest recovery communities you will find. Through my relationship with God and my recovery fellows, I am happy to announce that even in the midst of the
worst city for the opiate crisis, there is hope.


Tragedy to triumpH

An Interview with Dayton Recovers Co-Founder, Casey Steckling


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