SCRANTON — Katie Gross almost lost everything to opioids and alcohol.
The 37-year-old from Dunmore lost her children. She was living in shelters. She couldn’t hold down a job. She bounced in and out of hospitals and rehabilitation centers.
“I was basically dead inside, but I almost died physically as well,” she said during a coordinated event Sunday for the local addiction recovery community.
Gross, now a certified recovery specialist, starts her new job today as the Recovery Bank’s program coordinator, a job she’s uniquely equipped for because addiction nearly consumed her, but didn’t.
“I came to a point where everyone was supporting me, I found a program and I changed my life,” she said. “Six-and-half years later, my life today is beyond my wildest dreams.”
The Recovery Bank with other community collaborators held its first Scranton Recovery Walk from North Eighth Avenue in West Side to Wyoming Avenue downtown.
Around 250 people attended, a turnout that didn’t surprise Marty Henehan, a founder of the Forever Sammi Foundation, which has helped hundreds find their own paths toward recovery. Forever Sammi worked with Recovery Bank leaders to pull Sunday’s event together in a hurry.
“In typical Scranton recovery fashion, the recovery community showed up,” he said.
The Recovery Bank, an organization born out of the Treatment Court Advocacy Center of Lackawanna County, opened at the beginning of June at 120 Wyoming Ave. to help addicts, especially those coming out of the court system, find and maintain sobriety.
Volunteer coordinator Rose Nogan estimates hundreds have come through the doors over the last three months.
Volunteer recovery specialists are standing by to give anyone seeking help a tour of the center and answer questions during operating hours — 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.
Weekly programs include a finance and budgeting class, a women’s group and a family education group. Other programs include yoga classes, faith-based recovery groups and computer literacy classes.
Gross’ spiral into addiction started with a legitimate prescription for painkillers, which is more often the case in a national addiction crisis that’s taken 400,000 lives since its earliest days in 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As she spoke, her 9-year-old daughter, Bella, sidled up next to her and leaned in.
Gross still sees her two older children, but they’re not part of her daily life, she said.
“That’s hard but, you know, that’s my motivation every day,” she said. “Just to see today, all of us walking down the street in unity, with a police escort in front, that’s amazing.”
View full story and interview here: https://www.thetimes-tribune.com/news/hundreds-show-support-to-addicts-in-recovery-1.2530709
Written by: Jon O’Connell
The Times Tribune