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  • Writer's pictureSweta Patel

Inspiring Hope: Rory's Journey from Addiction to Recovery

Rory speaks. Sweta writes. How one addict's story raises questions for reflection for any one of us.

Q: I've been worried about my [niece, son, brother, cousin...] for a long time. How did Rory turn things around?

What helped Rory?

What was the turning point?

What can I do to help them?

A: Since launching Should've Been Dead in January 2024, I've often heard questions like these. I hear the desperation behind the words, wanting a straightforward, actionable answer.

I pause and think back to Rory's story, mentally flipping through the pages, wanting to offer that magical moment with the clear solution.

But the truth is, for Rory, it was a combination of things. It was Sergeant Alfredo, who took the time to get to know Rory when he was sitting in jail, and treated him like a human being.

It was the local homeless shelter that gave him a bed and kept him off the streets 30 days at a time.

It was Indian Mike, his sponsor, who would remind him that if he stopped thinking about himself so much, maybe things wouldn't be so bad. And that got Rory up and moving, doing things for others, and out of his own head.

It was finding a higher power (a God of his own understanding and a supportive recovery community) who stood by his side, reminding him that he wasn't alone.

Rory's book is filled with moments that lifted him up, little by little. And so many of these moments are a reminder to the rest of us that the things we say and do can be the thing that changes a person's life.

This school year, I've taken to heart what Rory shares in the blog video of what helped him find the strength to turn things around: It was the National Geographic magazines that he would flip through in his cot in jail that sparked a dream of visiting faraway islands one day. Plus, his desire to have a relationship with another human being.

My students need dreams. It's what helped Rory get through. And this was something in my control, so...

I organized a fall job fair and a spring career fair with 20+ businesses and organizations.

I took a group of students to local preschools to teach a reading/craft activity. (A few of the students shared after that they had never considered becoming preschool teachers before.)

I coordinated weekly educational seminars where different Mayo Clinic departments spoke about entry-level careers.

When Rory had dreams he cared about, he aligned his actions to get closer to those dreams. I hope the same happens with my students; that they continue to come to school to get closer to their own dreams.


For All of Us: As you go about your life, keep an eye out for opportunities to support someone's dream. Help them see a path to those dreams. When a friend shared that she felt restless working as a housekeeper and wanted to use her degree in interior design, I connected her with a couple of local home design businesses. She knows I believe in her, and that helps her to believe in herself.

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