(POTJS Note: Two weeks ago I came across a young man whom I had previously interviewed several years ago. He was in a bad way two years ago, homeless, and addicted. When I came across him again recently, he was still homeless and addicted. I asked this community for resources to get help for this young man, and I was so thankful and touched by the amount of responses I received on this page. One woman in particular reached out to me and offered to drive 20 miles with some volunteers to meet with him, assess his situation, and get him the help he needed, without ever having met him before. All because she is in recovery herself, and knows what it is like be in dire straights. I met with her a week later, and talked to her about her organization, RAFTS, that helps alcoholics and addicts get on the road to recovery. ~ Gregory)
“I was an active alcoholic for 25 years. I started drinking when I was 15 to ease anxiety and help me fall asleep at night. I learned that alcoholism is a progressive disease, and I started looking at women who were ten years older than me who were alcoholics, and I did not want to look like that in ten years. I had five kids, and I didn’t want to leave them with a legacy of a drunk-driving accident.
“That’s when I started going to A.A. meetings. I got involved, and I kept going, and now here I am with five years sober. Now I cannot imagine picking up an alcoholic beverage. Because when you have an alcoholic brain, you can’t just have one drink.
“After I got sober, my brain started working right again, and I spent a lot of time thinking about what is important. I grew up thinking God is number one, family is number two, and job is number three. When I got sober, I had to discern what I wanted to do to serve God. I talked with mentors and counselors about career paths and what to do, and it became clear to me that my greatest service came from my greatest pain. I saw as an alcoholic, I caused great pain to those around me. It just naturally fell into place for me after that, and I co-founded RAFTS – Recovery Advocates for the Shore, along with Nicole Federici.
“RAFTS is a grassroots community-based organization providing recovery support and programs to individuals and their families struggling with addiction.
We provide recovery coach training, 24/7 telephone recovery support, and programs aimed at supporting long-term recovery from addiction. We meet at Manasquan Recreation Building. Anyone who wants to learn more about our program is welcome to come.
“I am finding out that we are unique in that Nicole and I are not doing this for the money. We are not being paid by the insurance companies to get people help. There is big money to be made with insurance companies, but we are not involved with that. Nicole and I decided at the very beginning we did not want to align ourselves with anybody profiting off of the drug industry.
“A person has to want to be in – and stay in – recovery for us to be able to effectively help them. We help the individuals as well as their families. People with insurance typically do not need our help. Where we really come in is with people who do not have insurance and have nowhere to turn to. There are only a few facilities in NJ who will help people without insurance or Medicaid and we have relationships with those facilities. We have visited those facilities and we trust them.
“We also give a lot of attention to the families of the addicts. The families of addicts are so torn up, and are put through the wringer, and they are the ones we really have to encourage and support and be involved with. It is the family that really takes the beating.
“In recovery, I met women who loved me enough to teach me how to love myself. They taught me how to live. And that has made a huge impact on how we do RAFTS. We love people and help them to love themselves.”
P.O. Box 203
Manasquan, NJ 08736
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