From Dealing Dope to Dealing Hope

by David Stoecker
(Springfield, Missouri )

Better Life  in Recovery Logo

Better Life in Recovery Logo

Hi, my name is David and I am in long-term recovery. What that means for me is I have not used alcohol or other drugs since January 31st of 2009, and because of that today I am a husband, father, counselor, friend, mentor and most importantly a hope dealer. I live my life today to help others, because at one time in my life I did the opposite.

My first memory was being molested by a babysitter at 3. It went on for a couple of years. My father was an alcoholic, and my mother left him when I was starting 5th grade. She left us with her parents, and my grandpa was an evil abusive man. He would beat me, and then call me in to school as sick or helping him on the farm for a week until I healed. I became a bully, trying to feel control and power by picking on people weaker than me.

The summer before 7th grade I tried marijuana and it made everything better. I escaped my problems and for the first time felt I fit in. I was molested by a kid home from college that same summer, and I began drinking. At 17 I got alcohol poisoning and had to have my stomach pumped. That escalated to meth my senior year, which led me to stealing. I turned 21 in prison. At 22, I had a serious car accident I died 3 times in. The hospital introduced me to morphine. At 23, I attempted suicide. From 28-29 I overdosed 3 separate times.

At 30 I started college off of the GED I had gotten at 21 in prison. Since then I have turned that GED into an Associate’s degree, a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Sociology and a Master’s degree in Social Work. Today I am a LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker). I found that there were several things that helped me remain clean and sober. One of the most important was pouring myself into my recovery like I had my substance use.

Today, I am a counselor at Preferred Family Healthcare and I work with the Greene County Treatment Court system. I am on the State Advisory Council for Alcohol and Drug Abuse. I am on the Missouri Department of Mental Health’s Consumer Conference Planning Committee. I sit on the Citizen’s Advisory Board to Probation and Parole, was chosen to be the Springfield Regional Peer Outreach Specialist by the Missouri Recovery Network. I am a member of the Recovery Coalition of the Ozarks and a
certified Grief Recovery Specialist.

I have two children and an amazing wife. I have repaired the relationship with the mother of my son, and you will find her and her husband and his children going to amusement parks with my wife and our daughter like we are one big happy family. That is what recovery does, and that is what recovery looks like. A non-chaotic life!

Most importantly I am the founder and director of Better Life in Recovery (BLiR). Our mission is to is to deal hope and foster dignity for those who struggle with substance use and mental health issues through community service, awareness and education events that celebrate individuals in long-term recovery.

Through BLiR we share our stories of recovery to instill hope that people can and do recover and can live productive lives. We foster dignity for those in long-term recovery by providing volunteer opportunities to better the community they live in. We spread awareness of the dangers of substance use through live presentations, media interviews and public service announcements. We celebrate our recovery through sober, family-friendly social events. We educate individuals, organizations and communities on the issues surrounding substance use and mental health issues and advocate for the growing number of individuals who are in long-term recovery.

In 2012 BLiR did one event. In 2013 we did 3 events. In 2014 we did 7 events and this year we will do over 50 events. People in recovery and their families will put in almost 2,500 hours of volunteer time making an impact in our community. We painted 4 elementary schools over the summer and started a stream team that picks up the Missouri waterways and does water quality management checks for the Missouri Department of Conservation.

We also have a yearly 5K/10K run followed by a family fun BBQ. We do Recovery Day at Hammons Field, which is the minor league team in Springfield. We also do weekly social events that have now grown to twice weekly sober social events as of November. Next year we are planning on having 150 events planned!

Through Better Life in Recovery I am transforming lives with recovery. I have had the opportunity to speak in schools, colleges, communities, organizations and conferences. I speak at least twice a month and at times several times a week about the allure and dangers of substance abuse and the reality of the amazing lives people have when not using substances. I have gone from dealing dope to dealing hope and found that there truly is a Better Life in Recovery!

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