Recovering addicts share story of life after addiction

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Amity Foundation Circle Tree Ranch in Tucson is a treatment center for addicts get the resources they need to recover.  

 Alyssa Mandel says a headache changed her life. 

"I had to move out to Arizona about seven years ago due to a spontaneous central ventricular brain hemorrhage that I had," she said. 

Mandel says her doctor prescribed her opiates to stop the pain. 

"A couple years later when I stopped having them prescribed to me by my doctors at that point they were like, 'Okay Alyssa you know you are going to have to live with headaches you know it is going to be alright you don't need painkillers all the time,'" she said. "I also tried cranial cervical massage therapy which really helped with the pain, but of course I still wanted to use the pills."

When doctors cut her off, she started getting Percocets from a drug dealer. 

When she couldn't afford to get any more, she turned to alcohol and was arrested for a DUI. 

Trevor Ryan is another former addict getting treatment at Amity. 

When he was 15-years old, he fell off a motocross bike and smashed his ankle.

"Due to an accident I had some bone grafted from the crest in my hip to my right ankle," he said. 

To deal with the pain from several surgeries, he got prescribed opioids for years. 

"When it came time for me to make decisions about what was right and wrong when it came to drug use I almost always made the wrong decision," he said.

He says once doctors stopped prescribing him opioids, he bought them in college and then turned to heroin and meth. Before he went down a deadly road, he put himself into rehab.

Sheila Schrader grew up close to the border where drugs were available at every turn. 

"I actually ended up using heroin for the first time when I was 18-years-old," said Schrader.

She says she started using a very strong opioid and even continued through two pregnancies exposing one of her daughters to a dark time her in life. 

"The youngest one used to watch me fix, I used to fix right in front of her," she said. "I would have her guarding the windows making sure nobody would walk up on the car while I would fix and I really go down there."

A DUI brought her to the treatment center.

"I got here and there was a big sigh as I came in," she said. 

Amity provides daily activities and curriculum for recovering addicts to stay clean.

All three are sober and say the big reason for that is called "circles" where recovering addicts sit in a circle and share their story.  

"Sitting in circles with people that have similar stories like me is what has really saved my life being able to share my story or to hear their story and get feedback and don't let the trauma or anything I have done chain me down anymore," said Mandel.

They encourage people to try other medications before using opioids and learn how to create distractions from the pain through different therapies.


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