Strength in the Face of Unimaginable Challenges: John’s Story of Overcoming Addiction, PTSD, and Depression

Recovery Well is a blog that covers issues related to substance abuse and related addiction disorder. This week, blog writer Constance Ray, contributes a piece based on interviews she has conducted with those who are in recovery or are going through the process.  We thank her for her contribution to our blog.

Please note that this composite is not based on any clients, past or present, of The Soldiers Project.

Photo credit: Pixabay

Addiction is a hard enough condition to battle — add an additional mental health issue like depression into the equation, and life can feel downright hopeless at times.

We spoke with several graduates of recovery programs, many of whom worked through their issues with depression at the same time they were fighting to overcome their addiction. And they all shared with us one resounding message: seeking help can not only be life-changing, but also life-saving, no matter what battle you’re braving.

Here is John’s inspiring story, and we think his tale of perseverance will help people facing all kinds of challenges.


John said his fight against addiction began with a life event that many of us face at some point in our lives — but with several layers of devastation.

“My addiction road began with a car accident in 2000. The accident killed my friend, and resulted in a lower leg amputation for me,” he explained. “I had 14 surgeries between 2000 and 2001, when they performed the amputation. That’s when my painkiller addiction began — on top of alcohol.”

Not only did he have to come to terms with the fact that he was grappling with substance abuse issues, but he also learned he’d been fighting a few challenges he had never been previously aware of.

“I was diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed Adderall. This spurred 10 years of undiagnosed PTSD,” he said.

But John also said his time in treatment not only helped him learn better ways to cope with physical and emotional pain without turning drugs or alcohol, but strategies for finding the everyday joys in life despite his mental health conditions:

“The counselors at the Treehouse helped me walk through that difficult time, and encouraged me to take care of what I could take care of. I felt so supported and accepted, even when I was emotionally broken and scared, and I learned that it’s OK to have those emotions and fears.”

Now with more than a year of sobriety under his belt, he still finds ways to actively seek out all of the good in the world without letting his conditions get the best of him. And that means constantly finding new ways to face obstacles head-on — and overcome them.

“I just got a new sponsor, one who challenges me in ways I haven’t been challenged. As an addict with PTSD, anxiety and depression, it’s easy to shy away from challenges, and it has to be managed,” he revealed. “My new sponsor really challenges me to identify and connect with my emotions and feelings, not just my circumstances.”

John is not just a survivor, but an advocate for others facing mental health barriers and emotional hardships. He thinks that everyone has the opportunity to live a healthy and happy life. Reaching out for help is often a critical first step in that journey, and one that people should never be afraid to take.

As he told us, “No matter where you are at, just get started. … I’ve been there, and I know it’s so easy to want to get everything together, arranged in a certain way before getting help. But you can’t wait — you just have to do it.”

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