Addiction Awareness Scholarship Campaign – A Certified Recovery Mentor, Once An Addict

Name: Josefina Jasmin Ramirez

A Certified Recovery Mentor, Once An Addict

A Certified Recovery Mentor, Once an Addict

November 26, 2019

Josefina Jasmin Ramirez

Growing up in Northeast Portland in the 90’s gave
me an idea of who I was and who I wanted to be. My sister (who was
four years older than me) and I saw a lot of gang violence, and drug
use on our walks to school. It was normal. As I grew up and endured
my own trauma inside my home and outside my home, I started drinking
and smoking marijuana at age 10. I didn’t know then but I was
trying to escape my reality. By the time that I was 11 I started
getting involved with gangs which also came with more addiction and
trauma. By the time that I was 12 I dropped out of school and started
to do my own thing.

When I was 13 I got on probation for tagging on a
school. I got committed to one year of probation and some community
service time. At 13 I also got introduced to methamphetamines. This
is where my life started to turn upside down. I entered my first
treatment program the day after my 14
birthday. I was in there for about four months. When I got out of
treatment I started hanging out with the people that I met in
treatment and I got introduced to cocaine and triple c’s. At this
point I felt that nothing could stop me. Not even after I got alcohol
poisoning 3 times and almost died the last time. I was in a
pre-contemplative state of mind. I didn’t once think about
quitting, I thought that I could quit anytime that I wanted.

Four months after I got out of my program, my mom
voluntarily gave her custody, of me, to DHS. She felt like she
couldn’t handle me and that she didn’t know what to do anymore.
For the next two months I would go in and out of programs. This was
because I would run from them all and have to get sent to another
program. Eventually DHS didn’t know what to do with me either and
let me stay home. Three months later I was off DHS’s case load. I
was again free to do whatever it was that I wanted. After getting out
of DHS custody my life would spiral down really quick within the next
6 months.

Around July of 2011 I met a guy who I fell in
love with. He was my first love and vice versa. I started to get
heavier into gangs and addiction. Him and I were inseparable and we
always did everything together. Within the six months that we were
dating we both racked up a lot of measure 11 charges, including a
murder charge. Before I got arrested I was out for two months after
everything had happened. This is where my use got out of control, I
started to drink to cover up my emotions. I would go out and do risky
things because I was under the influence. Before I knew it my life
had become consumed with alcohol. I had tried to kill myself and

On January 13th,
2012 I got arrested. I would soon be sentenced to 15 years in prison.
When I first got locked up it was hard to take a look at myself and
the lifestyle that I had lived. That’s why I continued to live the
same life while incarcerated. However, about 4 years into my sentence
I started to change. The reason for this change was because my
victim’s mom had forgiven me. I started to slowly work on my mental
health (early on in my incarceration) and eventually I started to
work on drug and alcohol treatment. In 2017 I got so involved with my
treatment that I was asked to go to a training at another
correctional facility to become a Certified Recovery Mentor.

Becoming a Certified Recovery Mentor has had a
positive impact on my life. It literally changed me and has shaped me
into the young women that I am today. I graduated with my associates
on September 8
of this year and I am working on my bachelors in Criminology and
Criminal Justice with a Minor in Business Administration. Also, I am
currently working on my CADC l, Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor
level l. Because of the work that I do as a mentor I help people
transition back out into the community and provide them with
advocacy. My ultimately purpose it to give them that voice that I
never felt like I had when I was out and to help them reach a point
of self-efficacy.

In saying that, I think that the nation is
dealing with an addiction crisis because people don’t know that
they have options. People are not aware of the programs that are out
there to help them in their recovery. Most of the time all the addict
wants is someone to talk to and to understand them and why they do
the things that they do. I feel like our system fails them in this
area. Another thing to note is that most of the addicts don’t think
about the consequences and how this affects themselves and the
community. Only in effective evidence based programs do they learn
this. Some consequences for the individual could be incarceration,
programs, and the loss of family and friends. As for society they
could have a lack of trust in the government, stricter laws
surrounding drugs, fear of living in certain neighborhoods, and
trauma. In the grand scheme of things, addiction affected everyone,
whether its intentional or not.

How we can fix this addiction crisis for both the
individual and society is by having restorative justice. In saying
that, I think that having the community in on the addict’s re-entry
to society (whether it’s from a program or incarceration) is
essential. That way the addict knows that there is people that are
there for him/her and this way the community feels at ease and feels
like they are involved (since it does affect them too). I think that
having both parties involved in this process would really help
continue someone’s process of healing while keeping the community
safe for everyone.

*Note: The default picture is of me when I was in
the midst of my addiction.