Recovering addict shares her journey to sobriety

ISHPEMING — The month of September is recognized as National Recovery month.

“From the time I was 11 to 22, there was three days I was sober,” said Recovering Addict, Ashley Marie Thiel. Marquette native, Ashley Thiel started abusing adult dosed narcotics at 11-years old.

“I would snort them with my friends and then it slowly progressed. My hardest drug of choice to kick was my most recent one which was cocaine,” said Thiel.

Although still using, Ashley maintained a job and appeared to be functioning.

“Functioning on the outside doesn’t mean they are doing too hot on the inside. Functioning addicts don’t really exist,” said Thiel.

Before turning to Great Lakes Recovery Centers, Ashley came to a point when she decided she needed a detox from her previous lifestyle.

“What got me to the point where I new I had a problem was I got raided for the second time and my apartment caught on fire. So I completely detoxed from everything, I just new I couldn’t do it on my own, I’m going to really hurt myself if I do this on my own,” said Thiel.

Ashley has been sober for the past seven and a half months and has been in recovery at the Sue B’s House.

“From my understanding, I’m the first person who hasn’t gone through the rehab program to move to Sue B’s House. Everybody else has gone through rehab, I’ve never been to rehab in my life,” said Thiel.

The Sue B’s House is a recovery residence dedicated to providing a safe and recovery-orientated environment for women working towards sobriety. This is just one of the many services offered at Great Lakes Recovery Centers that works to provide multiple pathways to recovery.

“We try to look at diversifying the treatment experience because people learn in different capacities. Having a well balanced approach with how people integrate information and what positive elements come from that, it’s important to have balance. We try to have as many different types of sub-services and programming to help people,” said Great Lakes Recovery Centers CEO, Greg Toutant.

The services and programs offered by GLRC have been a life changer for Ashley.

“They would connect me with other resources, even though they weren’t getting paid to do that, they had no obligation to help me, they just did it out of the kindness of their hearts and it’s just amazing,” said Thiel.

Although the recovery process continues to have its hurdles, it hasn’t stopped Ashley from enjoying the little things in life.

“I was actually told that I wouldn’t feel pure happiness for the first few years of recovery, which is completely not true,” said Thiel.

Despite it being a difficult step to take, if you are a user looking for help, it’s highly encouraged to call Great Lakes Recovery Centers.

“They can call the 906-228-9696 number and they will be connected with someone who can help them identify what services are in their area and how they qualify for treatment. There is a screening process that is done, we certainly encourage that first phone call and that first contact,” said Toutant.

“There’s a saying that the phone weighs 1,000 pounds because reaching out is the hardest part of getting clean. I would say to call, showing that you really want to get clean and that you are doing it for yourself and no one is forcing you to get clean is the biggest first step in recovery,” said Thiel.

GLRC plans to continue on with their goal of helping people who have been in Ashley’s shoes.

“Our main goal is to just help people recover and rebuild a foundation in their lives and most of our clients come to us struggling with addiction issues as well as problematic behavioral health and overall health conditions, what we try to do is expose them to a way of life and a process by which they can become healthier,” said Toutant.

Due to the services offered through this organization, Ashley is planning on tackling some longtime dreams of hers.

“I want to go back to school and get a social work degree. I would like to become a substance abuse counselor and work for adult protective services. I’m an advocate for people with special needs and I’m also a court appointed guardian. I’m very passionate about working with people who have special needs or are non-verbal,” said Thiel.

Despite the process not being easy, Ashley said it’s completely worth it.

If you or someone you know is living with an addiction or seeking services for a mental illness, you can contact Great Lakes Recovery Centers at (906) 228-9696 (or toll free at 855-906-4572).