Your Health: Overcoming Substance Abuse

By: ABC6 News Staff


Twitter: @ABC6

Reporting By: Melissa Randall

WARWICK, R.I. (WLNE)— The opioid crisis hits home for so many in Southern New England. Two friends, from Rhode Island, are among those impacted. Now in long term recovery, Abbie Stenberg and Adam Sylvestre, are using their stories of substance abuse to try and help young people in our communities.

“I grew up in a beautiful town and it didn’t matter. I grew up with two parents who loved me and it didn’t matter. I became addicted to a substance and it controlled my entire life,” explained Stenberg, 27.

Stenberg, now a peer recovery specialist with Anchor Recovery in Warwick, doesn’t shy away from her background. She says it’s her responsibility to be the face and voice of recovery in order to help break the stigma.

“I was a 3 sport athlete. I got injured in gymnastics and I was exposed to vicodin when I was 14,” she explained. “I really loved the way it made me feel. I loved that I didn’t have to feel any pain.”

Stenberg says her life spiraled out of control. She spent her junior year of high school in a residential treatment program.

“I learned a lot, but I just simply wasn’t ready. I got out and started using again and before I knew it I was an IV heroin user,” said Stenberg. 

At age 22, and several additional failed attempts later, Stenberg came into recovery.

“It was really becoming involved in the community that really sustained my recovery,” she said. “I jumped right in with two feet and I haven’t looked back. I’ve dedicated my life to this movement and I wouldn’t change a thing.”

It was through her struggle with substance abuse that Stenberg met Adam Sylvestre, 30. The Burrillville man dealt with addiction as a teen, too. First it was weed. Then party drugs, and eventually cocaine and opiates.

“It happened so fast. In my 20’s I was looking at myself and saying I became exactly what I didn’t want to become,” he said.

In 2014 Sylvestre says he hit rock bottom.

“I got to a point where I had no contact with family, friends, or anybody. I found myself alone in a corner,” he explained.

Like Stenberg, the road to recovery for Sylvestre was not an easy one. 

“I realized that I needed to do something or I wasn’t going to make it much longer. And since that day I haven’t turned back.”

Today, Sylvestre works as a foreman. Stenberg is a peer recovery specialist. Both speak to teens in groups and at forums, including one recently at Burrillville High School in front of student–athletes. Their message to others: never give up.

“There’s always hope. Where there is life there is hope. As long as you are still breathing then you are able to get better,” said Stenberg.

“If you are struggling, there are resources and help available. You don’t have to go down as deep of a dark road as most of us had,” said Sylvstre.

We’ve included links to several local resources, including Anchor Recovery, Providence Center and the Rhode Island Department of Health.

© WLNE-TV 2017