Be a Blessing for Others

(Pictured left to right) Connie Schuby and Amanda Saracino (Greenbrook Recovery Center behavioral health therapists), Evan Koorhan, and Suzie Antonow (manager of Outpatient Behavioral Services)

Evan Koorhan completed the intensive outpatient program at Greenbrook Recovery Center and now volunteers to help others fighting addiction.

Between managing a local eatery and volunteering with substance abuse programs several times a week, Evan Koorhan lives a busy life. He recently bought a house with his girlfriend and values fellowship with his friends – two gifts he says wouldn’t have been imaginable a few years ago, when he was stuck in the cycle of addiction.

For years Evan used drugs and alcohol to cope with stress and anxiety.

“The only joy I was deriving out of life was using drugs and alcohol and partying with my friends,” he said.

While he was able to hold a job as head coach of a varsity water polo team, and even graduate in 2014 from Eastern Michigan University, Evan kept reverting back to alcohol and marijuana, despite how hard he tried to stop. He even dabbled in therapy, to little avail.

“It was the same thing over and over again, and I couldn’t break the cycle. I would try,” he said.

Evan’s wake-up call came on Father’s Day 2015. A police officer visited the house after Evan, in a drunken state, had left the scene of a car accident. After receiving an alcohol assessment in the jail intake room, Evan was recommended to enroll in an intensive outpatient program (IOP) as part of his probation.

After calling around to a few places, Evan stumbled upon the Greenbrook Recovery Center at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, which offers comprehensive services to adults and their families experiencing alcohol and other drug-related problems.

Evan said he noticed right away that the team approach of Greenbrook’s intensive outpatient program – having one-on-one access to a therapist, but also to physicians who could explain the science behind addiction and to other people fighting addiction – created a strong foundation for true recovery to begin.

“I felt like I had a multi-pronged attack on my disease, and it also opened my eyes to the fact that I was anxious and depressed,” Evan said, crediting social workers Fred Prezioso and Connie Schuby for guiding him every step of the way. The encouragement and structured support in an outpatient setting helped Evan transition back into everyday life.

After completing 12 sessions over four weeks at Greenbrook, Evan attended weekly meetings for 10 months as part of his early recovery after-care group. During that time, he learned an important principle about addiction recovery.

“I have to share what my experience and what my strength and hope has for other people in order to keep what I’ve been given,” he said.

So when Evan was asked to volunteer as a co-facilitator for Greenbrook’s 12-step recovery program, he seized the opportunity to teach others what he learned on his journey back to health.

Today, more than two years later, Evan is hesitant to call himself “cured” of addiction, choosing instead to credit his success to his willingness to listen to the professionals at Greenbrook Recovery Center and those who lived this journey before him.

“Some would call it grace,” Evan said, adding, “one of the biggest things that I’ve done in order to carry the message and help other people is to stick around at Greenbrook and volunteer there,” Evan said.

Evan admits recovery isn’t a journey he can choose for someone else. But he hopes that by continuing to share his story, he will encourage others to realize there is help for addiction, and finding the right program and network can help guide them back to their best selves.

“That’s a huge blessing in my life today. I am who I say I am.”

To learn more about Greenbrook Recovery Center, visit www.stjoesannarbor.org/outpatientchemicaldependencyprogram.

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