Stoecker turned 21 in prison and spent his young adult years haunted by memories of childhood abuse (emotional, physical and sexual). His descent into addiction would include multiple near-fatal drug overdoses, suicide attempts and homelessness before life took a striking turn.
“A foxhole prayer while I was an agnostic started me on the road to recovery,” Stoecker says. Growing in faith, he shifted all his energies to recovery instead of substance abuse – working the 12 steps, focusing on successes, and giving back to his community.
Today the former high school dropout has four college degrees, a family he cherishes and a passion for purposeful work. Stoecker is a leader in Missouri’s recovery movement and founder of the non-profit Better Life in Recovery, which provides community volunteer opportunities for people in recovery and sponsors advocacy and sober social events.PreviousNext
Vice Chair, Missouri State Advisory Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse; Advocacy and Education Outreach Coordinator for the Missouri Recovery Network; Director of the non-profit Better Life in Recovery.
What I lost to addiction:
My freedom for over two years, all of my teeth, trust from the people I cared about – and my life eight times on six different occasions.
At my worst, I was:
Hopeless, homeless, depressed and could not even look into a mirror because of how much I hated the person I would see.
Favorite recovery quote:
“I went from dealing dope to dealing hope” ~ David Stoecker
Rules I live by:
If you are living your life to make yourself and the people around you better, you are doing something right. If you aren’t living your life that way, you need to reassess your life.
When cravings come:
In early sobriety, I asked myself two questions: “If my son were standing right next to me, would I do this?” and “Is this something I would want my son to do when he gets older?” If I couldn’t answer yes to both of those, I wouldn’t do it. Today, I just think of all the things I have gained through recovery and how quickly they could all be gone if I were to use.
On my schedule today:
I start my day with a gratitude list, then fill my day training peers, educating the community, advocating for better access and funding for treatment/recovery supports and encouraging the use of recovery language.
Best advice for newbies:
First, look at the people you actively choose to be around and you will see what your future holds. If you don’t like the picture you see, change your friends and acquaintances. Second, you never have to use again. If that sounds good to you, make your recovery a priority.
What I learned about myself:
I learned that every horrific thing that happened to me and all of the negative choices I made led me to become the person I am. I was built from the ground up to be a recovery advocate and a #HopeDealer.
I get inspired by:
Every person in active substance use who tries to stop using, and everyone using their voice to educate and advocate to others about the reality of substance use disorders and the power of recovery.
My wedding, the birth of my two children, getting a Master’s degree in Social Work after getting my GED in prison and being recognized this year as the Missouri Mental Health Champion
What saves me from myself:
Having an open line of communication with God, knowing that if He forgives me I can forgive myself. Surrounding myself with accountability partners who give me great feedback.
Thoughts on relapse:
For some people, relapse happens and they are fortunate enough to survive it. For me, it happened multiple times and every time was an opportunity for me to learn and then apply that knowledge to my life.
On my bucket list:
To make the world a place where people who have a substance use disorder are not afraid to seek treatment and those in long-term recovery talk about their recovery openly.
SHED THE STIGMA:
If you’re a person in long-term recovery who wants to share your
insights, please contact us at [email protected].
Stoecker is a leader in Missouri’s recovery movement and founder of the non-profit Better Life in Recovery, which provides community volunteer opportunities for people in recovery and sponsors advocacy and sober social events.