Stories of overcoming addiction shared to bring hope

Staff photo by Sam Yu

Chatting at the Serenity Treatment Center table Saturday afternoon at the third annual Rally for Recovery at Baker Park are Kathleen Carpenter, left, of Mountain Manor, and Christine R. Marquardt, vice president and chief operating officer of Serenity Treatment Center.

Paul Rosenstock said one day about seven years ago, he realized he could no longer get high unless he took a dose of opiates so large, it would kill him.

His addiction had already cost him his family, home, business and car, but June 21, 2007, was the day he says he hit his bottom. In that moment, he experienced a glimmer of mental clarity — he describes it as a "pinpoint of light" — that guided him away from the drugs and toward recovery.

In the months that followed, Rosenstock entered a rehab program, began working and secured five scholarships that allowed him to attend school. Now, he not only has his life back, but as a case manager with Horizon Goodwill Industries in Hagerstown, he's helping others make the same journey.

"This story has a happy ending," he said.

On Saturday, he and others who have struggled with addiction gathered in a sun-drenched Baker Park to spread the message that recovery is possible. The third annual Rally for Recovery was coordinated chiefly by the Frederick County Health Department with help from the Frederick County Department of Social Services, Mental Health Management Agency of Frederick County and Way Station. 

Organizer Santita Prather said the rally is intended to raise awareness that substance abuse treatment works, especially if the community is lending its support.

"We have a responsibility to make sure people around us are as healthy as they can be," said Prather, recovery supports coordinator with the county health department. "Frederick is a small community, but we have big problems."

Because of its size, Frederick County sometimes doesn't receive as many resources as its larger neighbors, Prather said. But when local residents and organizations come together, they can help provide the relationships, housing and employment that are vital to a successful recovery from addiction, she said.

A number of local groups staffed booths at Saturday's rally to share information about their services.

Marte Birnbaum, executive director of Gale Recovery, said the event helps connect people with resources. As the county continues to battle a heroin epidemic, the community needs to know what resources are out there, she said.

Gale Recovery, the county's only state-certified halfway house, has been in operation for 38 years and has helped more than 3,000 people, Birnbaum said.

Volunteer Shelly Cleckley said the rally also gives hope to people whose loved ones are struggling with addiction. Cleckley, who used to work in the substance abuse division of the county health department, said he is proof that recovery is possible. Cleckley said his alcohol dependency nearly ended his career in the military. But after seeking treatment, Cleckley beat the addiction and is now 43 years sober. 

Though he's now retired from the health department, he's still in the thick of the local battle against drug and alcohol abuse, he said.

"I walk downtown every day to the park and talk to folks and share with them that they can overcome," he said.

Follow Bethany Rodgers on Twitter: @BethRodgersFNP.

(1) comment


Drug addiction is self inflicted natural selection.

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