Drug Free All Stars Founder Stacie Burns on Fighting MAT Stigma
Stacie Burns is the founder and president of Drug Free All Stars, an Oakland and Pontiac County-based advocacy group.
After beating heroin addiction herself, it’s now her mission to help others in recovery and break the stigma of addiction. She’s also a Certified Peer Recovery coach, Motivational Speaker, Advisory Board Member for Novi Community Coalition, Certified Narcan Trainer, and Radio Talk Show host for Cave Radio. Workit Health is proud to support Drug Free All Star’s advocacy for all pathways to recovery.
We caught up with Stacie to learn about her own experience fighting stigma against MAT and her own recovery journey.
>> You are a substance use counselor, a person in long-term recovery, and the founder of the group Drug Free All Stars. Can you tell me a little bit about your path to recovery and advocacy?
10 years ago I found myself on a bathroom floor, using toilet water to shoot heroin in my breast and decided to give recovery one more shot after 13 rehabs. I made my way into my final recovery with medically assisted treatment (methadone).
>> Both Work it Health and Drug Free All Stars are committed to advocating for all paths to recovery, including medication. Can you talk about why fighting against the stigma that exists within the recovery community is important to you?
Because …. we are losing an entire generation of people due to pushing the traditional abstinence-based recovery on individuals. Not one single person did drugs one way, recovery should be treated the same. Just because my recovery does not look like others that does not make me a lesser valued human. We are all going the same way, just different boats.
>>Those on medication experience stigma in 12-step meetings, notably Narcotics Anonymous. How do you think those of us in the recovery community can change this? Should we try to change the beliefs within certain groups, or should we work on creating new safe spaces?
We should do both!!! People do not like change and I get that. However, if you truly look at the literature provided by the fellowships it clearly states taking medications is fine. But others like to put their spin on it and that’s what causes the diversion of helping others!!! I would rather see anyone sitting in a meeting alive than sitting in a meeting planning a funeral it’s common sense!!!!!!
Just because my recovery does not look like others that does not make me a lesser valued human. We are all going the same way, just different boats.
>>The recovery community seems to still be trying to figure out how to adapt to medication, including allowing access to a sober home to those on medication while also being respectful to those in the home choosing total abstinence. How can sober homes adapt to medication?
I manage a sober home that takes all pathways. If an individual can not support another because their pathway is not like theirs, I suggest they talk to their sponsor. When one of my residents asks me this very question, my response will always be the same… Is she worth saving?
>>So many people in Michigan are still struggling with addiction — how can those of us in recovery best reach out to people still struggling with addiction? How can those not in traditional 12-step communities get more involved in community advocacy?
For me? I went to social media and started a group, a page, provided a hotline and used my story of addiction and recovery wherever I was invited. I also pushed my way into many state of Michigan boards, legislation and so on to make recovery have a seat at the tables.
>> What are the most important aspects of your own recovery today, and how have those evolved since you first got sober?
Teaching my children to always be kind, never judge anyone and help whenever you can. I believe our youth can change tough love into healthy love.
>> At Workit, we celebrate the smaller victories in life as Workit Wins, like turning in a work project on time or practicing healthy self-care. What Workit Wins have you recently celebrated?
For me? I went from being a drug-dealing heroin addict to a counselor at an all women’s state-funded facility. What I tell my girls about how I got to where I am? I stopped doing heroin, period.
>> For those reading who might not be sure recovery is possible for them, what is one thing they can do today to help themselves take a step towards recovery?
Reach out and let us reach in!! No matter what you think you can not do? Let another person in recovery take your hand and help you see what you can do!! Let us show you how to be the best version of yourselves!! Let us help you get back everything addiction stole from you!! When “I” is replaced with “we” illness becomes wellness.