On May 25, the Community Health Leadership Board kicked off the Circle of Caring challenge, a social media campaign to show how the Bangor region is united in surrounding and supporting people struggling with opioid use disorders.
Posts of #caringcircles started slowly popping up on Facebook, but one really seemed to strike a cord with people. A backpack, college diploma, little girl’s headband and sandals, with the simple caption: “I overcame addiction…still fight daily…a circle of my new life and accomplishments. You too can beat addiction…ask for help…it’s out there.”
With one Facebook post, one circle, Ryan Middleton shared one hugely inspiring message of hope, recovery, family, future and perseverance.
Ryan seems like half of the guys I grew up with. He’s a Mainer through and through. I liked that about him immediately. We’ve gotten to know each other through Facebook and the first thing you learn about Ryan is that he is dedicated to telling his story of opioid use disorder in order to help others and break the stigma surrounding substance abuse disease, treatment and recovery.
He recently graduated from Beal College with an associate degree in substance abuse counseling – he’s serious about being a resource for those who need help. He champions the difference medication-assisted treatment – specifically methadone – made in his recovery.
With the help of staff at Acadia Hospital, he’s weaned himself off of the medication. Ryan doesn’t hide that it’s a struggle some days but, after four weeks, it’s getting easier.
But, most important, what you learn when you get to know him is that Ryan is a fiercely proud father.
Knowing how much Ryan wanted to share his path to recovery, I asked if he would be willing to work with me and Chris Violette, communication manager at PCHC, to create a video for the #HealthyRegion blog. His personal story isn’t about how he got lost in the depths of opioid use disorder but an honest account of his challenges and triumphs in treatment and recovery, the support of his family, the love for his daughter, and his focus on getting an education and starting a new job.
Ryan’s ultimate goal is to empower others to seek recovery and to use his story as an indispensable weapon against stigma. His words are powerful. Check out Ryan’s story below.