The student news site of Everett Community College in Everett, Washington

The Clipper

The student news site of Everett Community College in Everett, Washington

The Clipper

The student news site of Everett Community College in Everett, Washington

The Clipper

Second chances through recovery

Students in 12-step programs gain new perspectives
Hailey Warren
Textbooks, 12-step program literature and coins that represent time spent in recovery.

The opioid crisis is all around us. It’s in the streets outside the school, it’s in the alleyways behind the places we shop, and it’s scattered throughout the neighborhoods where we live. At times, it seems like evidence of the crisis is everywhere we look.

Thankfully, not everyone touched by this plague has continued down that path. EvCC students who have faced the struggles of drug addiction have found the strength and courage to find their way back to a stable life. They attribute their success on campus directly to their recovery. Due to the rules of all 12-step programs, last names will not be used in the following story.   

“Since getting sober, I have more of an opportunity to understand school and what it means to be educated. Before getting clean, school wasn’t even a thought in my mind, much less any kind of future,” said sophomore Nicole M. 

Nicole said she only thought of attending college after joining a 12-step program.

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A 12-step program (Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, et cetera) is a path to sobriety organized in 12 steps. The first step requires the participant to admit they have a problem and acknowledge that their life has become unmanageable due to drug and alcohol use. From there, the next 11 steps are designed to support the structuring of new habits and goals in order to begin again, free from drugs and alcohol. It takes a great deal of work and personal growth, but members attest that if the effort is put in, the rest comes naturally.

“I finally had a chance to view my life in a way that I couldn’t before, like making priorities that will affect me years from now,” Nicole said. 

Since getting clean two and a half years ago, she has already seen some of her education goals come to fruition.   

“There was a time in recovery, before becoming a mother, when I only worked part-time and flourished in college. I remember feeling like I was smart for the first time in my life and finding that that self-esteem was all due to the fact that I got sober first,” said senior Julia B. 

 Julia has been in a 12-step program for five and a half years.  

“Education is a core value of mine and being sober in the program allowed me to pursue that. Prior to my recovery, I did not believe in myself or think about my future.”

Despite her accomplishments, Julia said just because she got sober doesn’t mean everything got easier.

“College in a 12-step program isn’t all fun and games just because you’ve gotten sober. The rest of life catches up to you all at once. Now I’m a mom, I have a full-time job and I also found out I have ADHD, which only surfaced after getting clean.”

Julia hopes to earn a degree in communications and from there start a successful career in the telecommunications field. 

Cole H. said that after getting sober he struggled with feelings of inadequacy, especially surrounding his school work. 

“You get clean and all of a sudden your emotional floodgates open up and you feel things with veracity and to every extreme.” Cole speaks about having been emotionally shut off to everyone and everything when he was using. “I even robbed a few people. People that were my friends, people that trusted me. I didn’t care at all.”

It’s taken no small amount of therapy and a heaping load of personal growth for Cole to set foot on a college campus.

“You kind of have to relearn how to be a person. The person you see now is unrecognizable from the person people saw when I was on heroin,” he said. “The way I walk, talk, speak, make decisions; it’s all about making a future for myself now. Back then, it was just about getting the next bag of dope. Your entire world becomes about getting dope. I was a zombie.” 

“I’m doing it though. It’s both the hardest and most amazing situation I have put myself in so far, but I’m doing it and I’m loving it.”

So the next time you look out the classroom window and see an addict making their way down Broadway, it’s important to remember that not all those who fall into addiction are lost. 

“Just because you make a few bad decisions and all seems lost at the time doesn’t mean all is actually lost. Those of us who find common sense before death rears its ugly head are given the chance at redemption that most people only see in movies,” Cole said. “Not all of us find our way back, but those that do know what it truly means to improve themselves. I mean, here I am, improving myself, right before your eyes.” 

Anyone who believes they or a loved one is struggling with alcoholism or substance abuse may take advantage of the resources listed below.

  • EvCC Counseling Center 425-388-9263  
  • National Addiction Hotline at 1-800-662-4357 
  • Associated Behavioral Health 206-329-5255 
  • Ideal Option 1-877-522-1275


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About the Contributors
Daniel Combs
Daniel Combs, Staff Reporter
My name is Daniel Combs (first name, William), and obviously, I go by my middle name. Last quarter, I was still pretty vague on what I wanted to do for a career but now, I think I have some idea. A few months back, I was thinking about journalism and its different forms and I came to a glorious realization; video game journalism is a thing! I have been an avid player since I was a young kid. Games of all sorts; FPS, RPG, MMORPG, etcetera. That was when I decided "to hell with it" and to go after that job title. Hopefully, it takes me somewhere good. My father was a journalist his entire life, and definitely all of mine up until he died. Over the years, I learned quite a bit from him while also managing to form a tenuous relationship with the man himself. In the end, I decided I didn't want to follow directly in his footsteps and that's how I landed at VG journalism. The Clipper fits into my long-term goals by teaching me the fundamentals of journalism, the ones my father never thought to teach me. Last quarter, I learned quite a bit and hope to use what I have learned to be a better journalist this quarter. One issue/topic that really interests me outside of journalism is true crime investigations. Crime, murder, theft, heists, you name it, I want to learn about it. I couldn't possibly tell you where that interest comes from but it's there and I am "bout it bout it." When I'm not writing for The Clipper, I can usually be found in the gym, at home playing video games, on the mountain trail, or at my girlfriend's place trying to wrangle unruly children. I think my most marked characteristic is my willingness to push forward despite the obstacles. When I set my focus on something, there is usually no stopping me. My greatest achievement is getting out of the drug/party life. I used to be a real wild man until some real bad stuff happened and I had to choose to either turn my life around or see it crumble before me. I chose the former. I most identify with Han Solo, don't ask me why. I can spoon feed you a ton of heart warming or inspirational crap about what brought me to The Clipper but at the end of the day, it was my father. I mean, sure, he's dead, but his legacy is what brought me here.
Hailey Warren
Hailey Warren, Managing Editor of Digital
What is your dream job? In a perfect world, ten years from now I'll be editing novels, either as a freelance editor or for a publishing company. My dream is to work with women/LGBTQIA+ authors from diverse cultural backgrounds within the literary and romantic fiction genres. What interests you about journalism? Writing is in my blood. My grandfather is a songwriter and nonfiction short story author, and my other grandfather was a journalist who worked in the field for decades, covering everything from David Bowie's early career to the fall of the Berlin Wall. For me, journalism is a gateway to my dream career as well as a way of honoring my family. While I love to write, my true obsession lies with copy and content editing. Journalism abides by stricter rules than any other kind of writing, so it seems like an ideal way to strengthen my red pen's skill set. When you aren't doing things for the Clipper, what can you be found doing? In my free time I'm either reading, working on one of several unfinished novels, playing guitar, or spending time with my huge and close-knit blended family.

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