I’m Deborah Rich but I prefer to go by Deb. I’ve lived in the Town of Tonawanda my whole life. My husband Dave and I have been married for 34 years and we have three grown sons, and two grandchildren that are my greatest joy. We are all animal lovers and have three dogs and three cats, and a tank full of fish.
I graduated from Canisius College with a degree in Medical Technology. I work for Catholic Health in the IT Department as an application analyst and have been with CH for 34 years. I enjoy my work but at this point retirement is looking really good. We hope to travel and see as many parts of the country as we can when we retire. In my spare time I love to read, camp and cook for my family. One interesting fact about me is that I have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
When my youngest son was in high school he began using prescription pain medication. He played football and many of the players used pills stolen from their parents in order to keep playing even when injured. As he graduated and started college his addiction became worse. As it was with many of our young people, he turned to heroin, injected for the first time by one of his football playing friends.
Our family was oblivious at first but as money, jewelry and coins from my husband’s collection began to go missing, we had to face the fact that he had a serious problem. We tried everything from tough love to having him arrested. I can’t even begin to describe the pain and devastation this caused in our family. He completed 28 days at ECMC and then was in outpatient rehab. It didn’t work for him as he knew all the tricks for passing a drug test. He so much did not want to be addicted. He got in over his head, thinking one time won’t hurt.
Finally it came to a point that his choice was go to jail or go to rehab and thankfully he chose rehab instead of running. Back then there was no Save The Michaels and we were at a loss as to where he could go. Because of his criminal record he was allowed to go to White Deer Run in PA. After that he went to Weston’s Manor in Olean and progressed to Supportive Living. I’m very proud to say he has been drug free for almost two years, has an apartment of his own and two jobs, and is saving for a car. They CAN recover.
I have always felt that I wanted to do something to give back, in honor of all the people who helped my son. When I saw the article in the newspaper about Avi and Julie and the great things that they envisioned for the Buffalo area, I knew I needed to find out more. I found their website and contacted Molly. She invited me to sign up for Recovery Coach classes.
Being a coach is sometimes heartbreaking and sometimes joyful but I love what I do. Many times a family member just needs to talk and it helps them to know that I understand exactly what they are going through. I wish I could devote more time to this
cause and I plan to continue this journey as long as there are families and family members with substance abuse disorders who need our help. I have learned so much and met so many interesting and knowledgeable people at STM. I would like to thank everyone that has taught me so much and I’m equally thankful for all of the kind and caring individuals that I have come to know. - Deb.