Profiles in Recovery

John M. Fabiseski

Detoxing in a jail cell, John M. Fabiseski prayed for death. Years of cocaine and alcohol addiction had brought him to the brink, and he had already tried to end his life once.

Fabiseski asked for a sign to keep living, and saw it on the wall: his initials – JMF – carved into the cement nearly 25 years ago, when he sat in this same jail cell. That was the catalyst, the moment of clarity, that Fabiseski used to end the cycle of addiction and jump-start his recovery.

“I had asked for a sign and I received it,” he says. “I made a decision that I wanted to be abstinent.” After being accepted into a diversion program, Fabiseski began rebuilding his life with in-depth treatment and 12-step fellowship. Today, he visits jails to help inmates with substance use disorders find recovery and re-entry. He is also a present father and grandfather, and active in Pennsylvania’s recovery movement.

Day Job:
Certified Recovery Specialist at Trehab Community Action Agency in Pennsylvania; Chapter Lead of Young People in Recovery (Wyoming County, PA).

What I lost to addiction:
My life had no purpose. I felt like there was a hole in my chest and the only thing that filled it was a mind or mood altering substance. I had lost connection to anyone and everyone.

I lost my freedom time and time again. I lost me . . . the endless cycle of substance use disorder almost took my life. No matter how much I used, the pain of living could not be numbed. I had lost a good friend, a job, and was about to lose my home. My solution was suicide, but I failed and found myself in prison.

What I value in recovery:
Through recovery I have the joy of rediscovering me. My life has purpose today and I fill that hole in my chest with recovery.

Best advice for newbies:
Find what works for you. There are multiple pathways to recovery. Don’t be afraid to evolve and explore all methods.

Advice to my younger self:
I believe that I would not say a thing. I am exactly where I am today because I experienced life the way I was intended to. I use my experience, strength, hope and my credentials to assist others on their recovery journey. I believe that recovery is a journey and not a destination.

Rules I live by:
I live by the rule of always having my feet match my mouth. I am a face and voice of recovery. I use person first language and identify as a person in long term recovery. I show up today and follow through with what I say I am going to do.

I know I am not perfect but I hold myself to a higher standard and try to be a role model. I believe that using person first language removes the stigma from substance use disorder and allows individuals to step forward without shame to receive treatment. Recovery gives me life. I live because recovery makes it possible.

Thoughts on self-discovery:
The words “I can’t” are no longer in my vocabulary. They say we are only limited to what is possible. Go out and do the impossible! A line in an old “Journey” song says ‘I get the joy of rediscovering you.’ Go rediscover yourself and the world around you.

I get inspired by:
Hope! Hope inspires me. Someone standing up and saying ‘I have 24 hours’ . . . That is hope!

SHED THE STIGMA:
If you’re a person in long-term recovery who wants to share your insights, please contact us at [email protected].