Stories of Recovery

  • Stories of Recovery

    Meet Newest Staff Member, Angie!

    Meet Our Newest Staff Member

    We are thrilled to welcome Angie to the team as an official staff member. Angie has been involved with Recovery Beyond since 2015 and has been a true advocate for the organization. Her kind and personable nature make her a great fit as a Recovery Beyond Coach. She says, “Never let fear or shame keep you from living the life of your dreams! Stepping into that fear has brought me the greatest challenges and most rewarding experiences of my life!”

    In case you don’t know Angie, we asked her a few questions about herself and what she’s looking forward to in her new position. Find out more below!

    What excites you about your new role?

    What excites me most about this new role is the opportunity to be on the ground floor of helping to grow, expand and create with an organization that has been close to my heart for so many years and impacted my life in such a big way. I’m excited to hopefully bring that same impact to others!

    Do you have a favorite Recovery Beyond adventure?

    Do I have to pick just one?? There are just so many for so many different reasons. Whether it’s a bowling night to celebrate the start of a new climbing season, a virtual drawing class, a hike that leads to the new experience of standing behind a raging waterfall or yes, standing on top one of the most amazing peaks in Washington State, Mount Rainier…the thing that transformed all of these activities into special moments was the people that I shared them with. It’s just a fantastic community.

    How did you hear about Recovery Beyond?

    I first became aware of and immediately involved with Recovery Beyond in 2015.  I heard about Recovery Beyond while I was attending the Women’s New Life Program through the Tacoma Rescue Mission.

    What do you notice about participants when they attend an adventure?

    I’ve noticed that participants who attend these adventures, myself included, even if they come in nervous and unsure of what to expect, possibly with some doubt about what exactly they’re getting themselves into, because of the welcoming and inclusive atmosphere of this community, by the time the adventure is over they’ve got a big smile on their faces and the confidence boost is just emanating from their soul! It’s a truly beautiful thing to witness.

    What can someone who is thinking about joining Recovery Beyond expect?

    Friendship. Kindness. Adventure. Encouragement. Laughter. Understanding. No judgment. FUN!

    What do you hope to accomplish in this role?

    I hope to inspire others and create a ripple effect that reaches far and wide!

  • Stories of Recovery

    Peer Lead Spotlight: Taylor

    Meet Taylor

    I am motivated by positive behavior change; my definition of recovery is to be better than I was yesterday.

    I have made self-improvement a major goal of mine, when I say improvement, I mean improve on the things in all areas of my life and stick with it. I have become tired of making excuses for why I can’t do well, because today I can do well.

    I must remind myself that I am worthy of having a life worth living.

    When I’m connected to my community, I feel like I’m living, when I am not afraid and a part of a group, I feel hopeful, I feel alive, and it’s a beautiful feeling.

    I have so many things I want to do, and to look forward to doing. I start college this fall to finish my bachelor’s degree in applied behavioral science, this will give me even more tools to continue this life of progress.

    I currently am a substance use counselor and I enjoy the work I do. It brings me joy to offer people hope for a better life. I have faith that people can do incredible things when effort is applied.

    I have a lot of it is insecurities. It has prevented me from participating in activities. It’s not a fun feeling not knowing how to do something or I might look dumb if I try, but I have decided to be a part of Recovery Beyond so I can learn to have fun, even if I have to force myself. I have decided to get a personal trainer and get on a solid workout routine. I know that if I stick with it, I will see results, plus I can learn things today.

    I am proud of how far I have come, and I’m excited about the future. I hope to make friends. I hope to learn from other humans. I want to laugh more. I want to be a part of the human race and not be so afraid of trying something new. I have to be willing.

    The best feelings I have experienced during recovery are moments where I pushed myself, knowing that I was able to be a better person mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

    I can receive all these aspects from Recovery Beyond. I am a happy participant and I’m looking forward to watching this movement grow.

    I’m going to start doing the rock-climbing event, and the boxing event, I love all the hiking events, I want to start my own event, I thought about a online book study, maybe reading a self-help book, and then talking about it, I feel inner work is just as important as outer work, sticking on a routine can sometimes be a struggle. I also want to make a point to join the virtual huddle groups when I can.

  • Stories of Recovery

    Peer Lead Spotlight: Jose

    Meet Jose!

    Our Peer Leads are dedicated to supporting recovery journeys, all while balancing busy personal schedules and commitments!

    January’s Peer Lead spotlight, Jose, has been involved with Recovery Beyond since 2018.

    Jose elaborates on why he has remained a supporter of Recovery Beyond for so many years, “I truly believe in this group and the purpose behind it. The community and the relationships that have been built. It gives you the feeling that we are not alone and that is very comforting.”

    We are thankful for Jose’s warm personality and his ability to make anyone feel comfortable. Keep reading to learn more about Jose’s story.

    Read more from our conversation with Jose

    What motivates you? 

    Breaking chains is my motivation!

    Teaching people to break those cycles and free themselves from the captivity and suffering of substance abuse. Growing up I lived in a household where drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence were very “normal”.

    My motivation is to completely shatter and obliterate the notion that that is a normal way of life. To show by example and to teach my kids and others that it is in fact not normal and that there is so much more in life to truly live for and strive for. To provide that safe place where they can actually be kids and allow themselves to truly live out their childhood and nurture all that comes with that.

    Breaking those cycles is my motivation!


    Anything you’d like to share about your recovery story or yourself? 

    Too much to write here! I’ll try and keep it short. It’s been quite the journey, humbling, challenging, heartbreaking and so uplifting.

    A true roller coaster of emotions to say the least BUT I stand behind this saying, the best gift I have ever given myself in my journey through recovery is the ability to feel.

    The raw emotion of every moment as it comes, to live in those moments as hard or as beautiful as they may be, that right there is the sweet spot. Honoring them for what they are and growing with those moments. Life on life’s terms.


    How do you balance your busy personal life?

    LOTS AND LOTS of prayer!

    No joke, being centered in my Higher Power, my Savior; Yeshua has kept me grounded and balanced through it all. I cannot begin to tell you the many ways God has shown up in my life and there are many times that I reach a breaking point.

    I have to stay connected to Him because I’ve tried to live life without Him and well, we know how that turned out!


    What have been your favorite Recovery Beyond activities?

    It’s hard to choose one event, the hikes have always been the center of the deepest conversations and connections I’ve experienced with Recovery Beyond, the bike rides were so much fun too because I LOVE biking, the river float for Scott’s birthday! That one was so much fun too!


    Every time I attend an event there is excitement to see my people and after every event there is so much contentment and satisfaction, reflection and perspective from others’ points of view too.

    I am so blessed to be a part of this group!!



    Jose is part of our Peer Advisory Board. You can read more about him on our Team page.
  • Stories of Recovery

    Peer Lead Spotlight: Kamaria

    My name is Kamaria Benge and I am happy to be a Peer Lead because I get to help others learn how to live life again.

    In my recovery, I did all the right things. I managed a Recovery House, went to meetings, saw my counselor regularly, met with a peer counselor, and even became a peer counselor myself.

    I loved the empowerment I got from being responsible again and was enthralled to have my daughter back in my life and have my family start to trust me again, but I was still missing something.

    Then my coworker invited me to Recovery Beyond event. All of a sudden I knew what I was missing – experiencing life while connecting with others!

    I got to go kayaking for the first time, and it was amazing! I tried boxing, and it was a blast. Just recently I tried bouldering. I thought I wouldn’t be able to climb the walls or wouldn’t like it, but it was so much fun!

    Having someone there to support you when you get scared or self-doubt yourself makes it better and having someone to share in the experience is priceless!

    I want to share the experience with the world, especially those who are familiar with the negatives in this world, like me.

    I have overcome homelessness, substance use, and having no faith or hope. And now I have my own place, a car, my daughter, and best of all, hope, faith, and love 🙂

    About the image: Myself, my daughter, and my husband on the Recovery Day at the Mariners. This was the day I got to watch my daughter go from hating going to the game and being grumpy, to smiling, having fun, and begging to go back again. That right there is why I joined RB.. to see that memorable moment reach more people.

  • Stories of Recovery

    Olga’s Journey: Mental Health and Recovery

    “Taking care of your mental health gives you the ability to cope and live with stress. Positive mental health helps you live to your full potential.” – Dr. Rach Rohaidy

    Recovery Beyond Peer Lead, Olga, sat down with us to discuss the importance of mental health and share parts of her journey. Born and raised in Ukraine, Olga moved to the United States in 2016 to join the University of Maryland’s tennis team. This monumental change took a toll on her well-being and affected her confidence in herself.

    Olga remembers, “It felt like being released into the wild without making my own decisions before that [attending college in the USA].” This move across the globe made her feel unprepared and unsure of her emotions. “There was a lot going on”, Olga explains, “I wasn’t processing it, I felt more and more overwhelmed, and I couldn’t do anything about it.”

    A Change in Behavior

    Olga began isolating herself from the tennis team. Her teammates noticed a change in behavior and suggested she address the issue. She says, “I had to deal with it, it’s the toughest thing to figure out. What’s the best approach? How do you deal with your own anxiety? How do you not be so tough on yourself? It’s interesting because you realize a lot of it is from you beating yourself up. But how do you not do it? How do you stay kind to yourself?”

    Knowing she had to work on her mental health, Olga began seeing a psychiatrist, got a formal diagnosis, and began taking medication. That wasn’t the end of her struggles, “I was holding onto my diagnosis too much, I wasn’t working through it in a healthy manner. It was almost a crutch. […] I realized later, I also struggled with substance use disorder and went through tough relationships in college and with my teammates.”

    Olga knew she was still relying on substances to cope with feelings.

    She explains, “I decided to blame everything on substances. I thought, ‘Once I quit, things are gonna get better.’ And it’s true, after I got sober things got better. But over the first year I realized there’s much more to it. My substance use was just my way of avoiding dealing with those things.”

    Mental Health Matters

    When asked about the importance of mental health, Olga responded, “To me, taking care of my mental health is everything. Everything I have can just fall apart easily if I don’t take care of my mental health. People say that a lot about sobriety. But for me, first, you also have to take care of your mental health. Otherwise, you have so many things around you. It’s so easy to slip if you’re not in a good mental state. It’s the most important thing.”

    What’s In Your Toolbox?

    Olga has a toolbox of mental health strategies that she refers to when faced with challenges.

    This mental health toolbox includes meditation, exercise, and connection. Olga emphasizes the value of consistency, which means that you can start small and make changes over time to create habits.

    She stresses the importance of seeking out help and support when needed, as well as exercising and participating in relationship-building activities. She elaborates, “It’s essential to build connections and to feel like you are a part of the community, and that there are people that understand and will be there for you even when things get tough.”

    For example, Olga has included events such as Recovery Beyond sporting events as part of her weekly routine. These activities have encouraged her to try new sports (such as climbing) and lean on relationships with others in the Recovery Beyond community.

    She describes Recovery Beyond as an essential part of taking care of her mental health and recovery. Mental health is just as important as physical health and wellness. Olga explains, “You have a disease [depression], you have to try to take care of it and keep it under control. It’s possible, there are ways to do it, same as diabetes – there’s medication, diet, and lifestyle changes. It’s the same for depression, little by little you have to figure out how to keep it under control.”

    Communication is Crucial

    Dr. Rach Rohaidy, a psychiatrist with Baptist Health, mirrored this in a recent webinar with Advanced Recovery Systems. Dr. Rohaidy advocated for meditation, exercising, volunteering, and relationship-building to improve mental health. She recommends small amounts at first and building up to these habits. If you know someone struggling with their mental health, Dr. Rohaidy emphasizes that open lines of communication are crucial; sit with someone, be an ear for someone. If you or a loved one need someone to talk to, here’s a list of community mental health resources.

  • Stories of Recovery

    Kyle’s Story

    “Hi, my name’s Kyle and I’m an alcoholic…”

    I’ve said those words countless times in meetings, to counselors, and mental health professionals. During certain phases of the substance abuse recovery journey, I think it is incredibly valuable to deeply and fundamentally accept your personal failures. Failure to do so is wildly dangerous and a quick road to relapse. Accepting the depth and severity of my own actions and flaws allowed me to change my thinking and my relationship with alcohol. I’m thankful to have been able to walk that path.

    It took a while before I began to feel stifled by the labels: addict, alcoholic, failure. It took some more time to identify my unhappiness with substance abuse recovery programs; the unhappiness I finally identified was the fundamental hopelessness at their core. They seem to be built on the idea that addicts are broken and can never be whole again. Built on the idea that management of symptoms is our best outcome and only option. As I spent more time in recovery and realized the strength of the connection between substance abuse and mental health, I began to wonder if there wasn’t a better way for addicts to think about themselves. Shame, guilt, and fear are powerful motivators, valuable tools for some addicts to help avoid relapse…but I felt that there had to be something more.

    During my time in in-patient recovery with the VA I began to glimpse that something. I, and a few others, started meeting up every day to play volleyball and began to invite others to join us. Watching veterans and addicts playing their hearts out and laughing with new friends without a thought for their failures finally brought it all into focus.

    “Hi, I’m Kyle, and I like volleyball and relaxed afternoons with friends. I like putting down the weight of my failures and enjoying activities not because they keep me sober, but because there is a huge part of me and every other addict that has NOTHING to do with our substance abuse.”

    Within the substance abuse recovery community, EVERYTHING has to do with addiction. Every meeting, every call, every question asked. Addiction is all-consuming, but part of the recovery journey is to discover and re-discover the parts of ourselves to which drugs and alcohol are completely irrelevant.

    After completing my time in in-patient recovery, I returned to the Seattle area and began to try and find a group that could match my ideals and hopes for the future. Thankfully, I found Recovery Beyond.

    I’ve had the opportunity to meet wonderful people and start friendships. I’ve climbed mountains I hadn’t and learned to play tennis. I’ve begun to enjoy parts of my life I thought I might never be able to and parts I’d left behind.

    I’ve walked the road of recovery for a long time now, and now I’m where I’d like to be, beyond.

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