Rutgers University Launches First Drug Counselor Program

Two and a half years ago, Joey Mazzo came to Serenity Springs Recovery Center and as he describes it, his life was in shambles. 

Externally, things were still manageable, but his drug addiction took him to unimaginable depths internally. “I was depressed, anxious, miserable, which drove me to be at an all-time level of selfishness, which led me to steal from very, very close friends, after I’ve stolen everything in my house,” Joey says. He wasn’t raised to steal and came from a strong faith-based household, but his addiction was in the driver’s seat and he was merely along for the ride. He would soon learn that he was powerless over drugs and alcohol and the bottom he hit was beyond his control.

Joey clearly remembers walking into Serenity Springs for the first time. As he recounts it, he came through the door just as dinner was finished being cooked and the clients sat down to eat. “A couple of kids gave their portion up and saved a plate for me. Everybody, from clients to staff, welcomed me with open arms,” Joey relates. Initially unsure of how this stay in treatment would differ from his past attempts at sobriety, Joey felt his apprehension melt away and his confidence was won in short order. “It felt different. It felt surreal because once I started talking about what my life was like, nobody judged me. Everybody was like ‘Me too’ and ‘I’ve been through that.’ Everybody was genuinely happy and that was a big deal for me,” Joey recounts. The close-knit bonds forged by clients at Serenity Springs has been reflected upon by many alumni as the foundation for their lasting sobriety and this was not an exception for Joey.

At Serenity Springs, Joey was introduced to the twelve steps of recovery and what soon followed was a series of spiritual experiences. The first impactful one for him was reciting the third step prayer for the first time, an oath to hand his thoughts and actions over to a Higher Power, one that Joey calls God. When Joey talks about making that decision that day, he speaks with conviction about the influence this has had on his life from that point forward. “There was nothing like it. It lit me on fire. And that was my first spiritual experience. There’s been a million of them since then,” says Joey. The lesson Joey took that day and carries with him now is that God is everywhere and this awakening of God-consciousness has worked within him from that day forward. Joey has completed the twelve steps at Serenity Springs and has freely passed on his strength, experience and hope to others as an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous, sponsoring others and demonstrating what he’s learned in all his affairs. He is also active in his home group, holding the position of treasurer and carrying the message to those in detox facilities.

Joey is a living example of the effectiveness of the program taught and practiced at Serenity Springs. Today, at two and a half years sober, he says that trigger avoidance has no place in his life and that he has ceased fighting, in accordance with the tenth step promises (pg 84, Alcoholics Anonymous). “I believe in triggers if you haven’t been through the steps. But the program promises that we can walk a free man. I didn’t get sober to walk on eggshells and if I did, I wouldn’t be sober,” explains Joey. When asked what else Serenity Springs has done for him, his voice carries tones of both enthusiasm and gratitude. “Serenity Springs was the matchmaker for me and God and my relationship with my Higher Power. The staff was undeniably welcoming. I still have a constant relationship with a lot of the guys that work there, have worked there in the past or went there. The guys I live with today, who I call my brothers, went to Serenity Springs. I have guys that moved across the country that I talk to on a weekly basis and we end the conversation faithfully and wholeheartedly saying ‘I love you.’ That’s something that without Serenity Springs, I would not be able to say or believe. Serenity Springs didn’t hassle me for money. They worked with me – very, very much so. It was affordable enough for little old Joey who came from a blue-collar household, a working class family. I know that with Serenity Springs, today, I’m happy, helpful and forever grateful for what they’ve done in my life. I’ll always try to help. I still to this day sponsor guys that come out. If I can give somebody the advice, I’ll always, always suggest Serenity Springs because of what they’ve done for me. When family and friends see what my life used to be like, and they see me now, they ask ‘How?’ and I stand by it. I’ve created a family through this program and Serenity Springs,” says Joey.

Joey is one of the many success stories to have passed through Serenity Springs. Each day, more and more are escaping disaster and commencing shoulder to shoulder in their common journey (pgs 152-53, Alcoholics Anonymous) toward recovered living. The paradise that sober life promises is available to all those who desire it. For the help that you or a loved one need, contact Serenity Springs Recovery Center immediately.