Let’s share HOPE

Stigma is the number reason people do not seek treatment for substance use and mental health issues.

These are stories of personal experiences (lived experience) told by community members of Pueblo, Colorado. Interviews conducted by Barbara Jackson, Health Promotions Specialist.  

Disclaimer: The content of our program could be considered sensitive in nature. It covers the social and cultural elements associated with the complex issues of substance use. It is not intended to offend, rather to inform. Please use discretion before viewing, parental discretion advised.

Voice recording disclaimer: Due to COVID-19 we recorded each interview in one of the lovely parks in Pueblo. Background sounds (wildlife, children, cars, activities) are abundant in some of our recordings.

Dates and Location of traveling exhibit
Libby

Libby

I talk about HOPE all the time.

I love working with people that are dealing with mental health and substance use issues.

Because what I find, is when they actually deal with those issues and recover, they're healthier than most people that never had those issues.

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Matthew

Matthew

Isolation

This began as a social thing. I wanted to get high with my friends. Then I just wanted the substances.

I wasn’t letting people love me, for me. I was letting them love me for drugs.

I don’t think using makes you sub-human, but I think it can make you feel that way.

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Ashley

Ashley

Being an addict and facing the stigma, you don’t want to go to the doctor. But I had to go.

The nurse in the ED said, I think you’re drug seeking…

Stigma is a learned behavior. I would want to explain to her, to treat everyone the same. No matter if you’re an addict, a parent, child, grandparent, man, woman, gay, trans. Just treat everyone the same.

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Coby

Coby

I grew up thinking I could be anything.
When I couldn’t quit by myself … that was the stigma – that I can’t quit. This is a disease, not a moral failing.

You tell yourself you’ll only use one more time, you're only 20. Then you're 25. Do something NOW. If I hadn’t been so embarrassed and put the stigma on myself, I wouldn’t have wasted a decade.

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Thomas

Thomas

I encourage a sentence that forgives past mistakes and empowers you to be a success in all that you want to accomplish in your life.

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Michael

Michael

The loneliness will break you.

I ruined my mother’s trust. Once I did that, I felt like I had nothing left to lose, and my substance use increased.

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Laura

Laura

Oh, just a drug addict.

You can’t be successful; you can’t be a professional; you can’t have an education; or be a good parent; own a home; not be a criminal; or look healthy; be attractive; or have success with finances; or career; have good hobbies and good friends –

Oh, you’re just THIS. Your life is stuck and all you’re ever going to be is THAT. 

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Anne

Anne

You give up on your own self.

You can’t fix anybody. You just show them how to find themselves.

When you were young and someone asked, what do you want to be? No one says, I want to be a drug addict and destroy my life. It’s not something that’s planned.

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Jean

Jean

Words are SO SO powerful. Even if they are well-intentioned, they can hit people in so many different ways.

I was 14, in my very first treatment center. I thought I was experimenting … I remember standing up and saying, I’m Jean and I’m an addict. It was a defining moment.

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Thad

Thad

I was being labeled an alcoholic. Even though I came from a family of heavy drinkers, I never wanted that label.

My little house had a huge picture window. Unfortunately, across the street was a liquor store. I was crying, begging for help from the Universe.

Am I going to die if I do? Am I going to die if I don’t?

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Wendy

Wendy

Our drug use was out of control. There was domestic violence, and I ended up leaving. Within two months he overdosed (died).

When someone dies of natural causes the reaction someone has is different than the reaction someone has when it’s a drug overdose.

It’s okay to not be okay. Reach out. There are people who care.

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Luke and Niki

Luke and Niki

Be kind – be respectful.

You never know the effect you have on someone.

Emotions are good, it’s how you show that emotion that needs help along the way. Hopefully, we give them that empowerment. We grab ahold and have hope that we have instilled that in the children we care for.

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Denita

Denita

We need to identify who is good for us, and who is not.

We have to be able to do that, or we feed the fear that we’re going to be alone.

You are not alone.

You have to take the step, to include other people in your life.

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Jonathan

Jonathan

We recognize the whole human, not just the substance use or the mental health issues.

I took mindfulness and questioned, what keeps me living? If all is stripped away, I am thankful for that essence that is keeping me alive.

For those struggling, you are not alone, have hope for the future.

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