Profiles in Recovery

Paige Miller

Trapped in a cycle of addiction, Miller’s life seemed to echo the movie “Groundhog Day.” She kept re-living the same misery over and over:

“For a year, I woke up sick, went to work, promised myself I wouldn’t drink, and by 5 p.m., my skin would be crawling. By 6 p.m., I was on the verge of blacking out,” she recalls.

Miller’s blueprint for recovery involved outpatient treatment, ongoing peer support and regular physical fitness. Today, she’s determined to forge a different path than three of her grandparents, who died before age 50 from addiction and mental health disorders.

“I thought my life was going to end at the age of 22, and recovery gave me the second chance I needed,” Miller says.

Day Job:
Development Director of Hope House, a nonprofit in Georgia that helps women recover from addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders.

What I lost to addiction:
The ability to live a happy life. To be a friend, a sister, a daughter, and an aunt. I lost relationships and my identity as a person in this world.

What worked for me:
Outpatient treatment, a mutual aid support group and physical fitness – especially yoga and running. I found other young people in recovery who showed me that life could be fun without alcohol or other drugs.

One thing that transformed my journey was learning how to advocate for my recovery, and that I did not have to be anonymous as a person in recovery.

Rules I live by:
I now live to experience life – good or bad, and I believe I should leave this world better than I found it, no matter if it’s helping 1 or 100 people.

On my schedule today:
I pray every morning; it used to formally be on my schedule and now it is as ingrained as making my bed every morning. I get to have some incredible experiences every day — one includes a recovery check-in and mentoring opportunity with a young woman beginning to work in the recovery field. Today is special because I am about to make a cross country road trip to hike the Grand Canyon with another young woman in recovery.

Best advice for newbies:
I was reminded to be open minded, continuously, and that everyone had a lesson to teach me. Today my recovery is enhanced because I remain a teachable student, in all areas of my life.

I get inspired by:
Other people in recovery who have learned to find their voices and advocate for themselves and others, because the reality is that we do get well.

One particular person that inspires me is Neil Campbell, Executive Director of the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse, because she showed me I could be and do anything I wanted to in recovery.

Proudest moment:
When my Mom stood up as a recovery advocate and shared our story of coming back as a family — without shame, but with confidence and love.

Favorite passage – on coming out of the recovery closet:

“By hiding our recovery, we have sustained the most harmful myth about addiction disease: that it is hopeless. And without the examples of recovering people, it’s easy for the public to continue thinking that victims of addiction disease are moral degenerates – and that those who recover are the morally enlightened exceptions.

We are the lucky ones – the ones who got well. And it is our responsibility to change the terms of the debate, for the sake of those who still suffer” ” ~ Former U.S. Senator Harold Hughes

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