Recently, Prevention Point Philadelphia (PPP) has been receiving letters from current and former participants describing their experiences on the streets of Kensington, how PPP has played a role in their lives, and where they are in their substance use and recovery journeys today. The letters were a moving and uplifting surprise for our staff. The writers have expressed that they want their words to be shared, and with their permission we will be sharing these letters on a biweekly basis. With a nod to PPP Education Lead Roz Pichardo, who refers to participants as "sunshines", we are titling this series, "Sunshine Stories."
Prevention Point was there for me when I needed help to survive, and now I am thriving and giving back.
By Alexander L
This e-mail serves the purpose of expressing my support, appreciation, and gratitude to Prevention Point. While I was actively using, I only ever utilized the syringe exchange program regularly, which on its own is a much-needed program to have for those of us who are still out there. In spite of only utilizing the syringe exchange, I can say with great confidence that if it had not been for Prevention Point I highly doubt that I would even be here to write this letter of appreciation.
Prevention Point and the good people that work and volunteer there were there for me on the day that I hit my rock bottom. On that day I was physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually broken in addition to being completely hopeless of ever getting clean and having any semblance of a normal life. That morning, I remember being kicked out of and banned from yet another assessment or crisis center after sitting there overnight and praying that I could keep it together long enough to get into rehab.
It was at Prevention Point where I was seen as a human being in need of help.
Ultimately, after being kicked back out on the streets, I ended up getting a sample bag of fentanyl and overdosed on the steps of Somerset terminal. I was brought back with Narcan. However, I began to get horribly sick and was quickly arriving at an even worse predicament than I had been in just one hour prior. In that moment I was hopeless, and I wanted to die.
I remember walking down to the only place that I had left to turn to—and that was Prevention Point. It was there where I was met with an empathetic, compassionate, and no-nonsense approach. After years of carrying a low opinion of myself and being judged by others for my struggles, as well as simply being invisible to people as I navigated my life while living on the streets, it was at Prevention Point where I was seen as a human being in need of help. I wasn’t viewed or treated as just another “drug addict” but rather with respect as a PERSON who is struggling with substance use by not just one person but everyone that I encountered there that day.
The work and services this place provides save lives—so many, many lives, and we need them.
An employee gave me a chance to save my life by getting me a ride to another assessment center, one that I had not been banned from yet. She also told me that she would have someone waiting for me at the crisis center to support me through the intake process, which had always presented a struggle for me. That person she had waiting for me is still my Certified Recovery Specialist some 21 months later, and she has had a profound impact on my life.
Today I am a person recovering from substance use disorder, a Certified Peer Specialist, and a WRAP [Wellness Recovery Action Plan] Facilitator. I have also been blessed to have gotten the chance to volunteer at PPP. I can truthfully say with conviction that had Prevention Point, and all of the wonderful people who have given their service, not been a staple in our community, I would not be here. The work and services this place provides save lives—so many, many lives, and we need them. People are dying at an alarming rate from diseases and overdoses; we cannot afford to lose Prevention Point or any entities of its kind.
The continuous 21 months of sobriety that I have today started at the corner of Monmouth and Kensington Avenue on a rainy day on September 29, 2020. Even for someone who never utilized Prevention Point’s wide array of services, it still has become a key player in my story. Prevention Point is necessary in fighting this epidemic. Thank you for your time.