From Hate to Love by Dan Davidson

FROM BEING A MENACE TO SOCIETY,
TO A PERSON OF LOVE AND COMPASSION FOR HUMANITY.
RAISING THE BAR,
SMASHING STIGMAS,
DESTROYING DISCRIMINATION ,
CHANGING THE LANGUAGE WE SPEAK,
SHARING THE TRUTH, SHIFTING PERCEPTION.

I want to take a moment and give an introduction of myself. I’d also like to discuss with you and describe my personal story and my shift from the person I had become, to the person I am today. My intentions are to share my experience in being a racist, sexist, discriminating person, to becoming the man I am today. I believe that if I can make the personal shift that I have made, any one can.

 
My name is Dan Davidson. I am a person in long-term recovery, from drug addiction, mental illness, and homelessness. My story is that I grew up in a very dysfunctional, broken up, abusive family. After years of neglect, abuse, and being bounced back and forth by my parents, I left home when I was young.

 
At the age of 14 I left home. Having the need to fit in and feel part of the crowd, I got mixed up with people that were engaged in drugs. At the age of 15 I got mixed up in some legal trouble and received my first charge.

 
The Courts sent me to Stockton California, to a Youth Home. The Youth Home was in a neighborhood where we were a minority. There was a lot of gang activity and crime. I can’t really remember how many shootings I witnessed. Looking back at it today, I can see where living in that neighborhood helped start the mold of the person I was about to grow up to be.

 
Once I left the youth home I got engaged with a population of people that were from the next generation. These guys really took a liking to me and took me under their wing. One of the guys I was closest to went by the name The Chameleon. We were all like family and had each other’s back. It felt good to find a niche, a place I felt I finally belonged.

 
The Chameleon and the other guys were all Outlaws and Bikers. These guys taught me how to hustle selling drugs, and skills to survive in the streets.

 
As time progressed, I got deeper into the life style. I became adapted to the ideas and beliefs of the crowd around me. I ended up landing in a whole different culture than I grew up in as a child. My socialization, environment, had changed dramatically, as I became me: a very hateful man.

 
Even with seven years of recovery, I still held on to a lot of those ideas and beliefs. I thought that they were the force that made me who I was.

 
After about 7 years in recovery I had an injury, and was on pain pills for an extended amount of time. Then I found a doctor that put me on pain management. When I went for my last visit, they would not let me see the doctor until I had $300.00 cash. I got really sick, I could hardly move, and then someone came by and saved the day. I was introduced to heroin.

 
I picked up a few charges for possession, and was in and out of jail for a couple of years. In December of 2014 I went to residential treatment at First Step House.

 
I completed residential treatment, then transferred to First Step Out Patient. While in outpatient I lost so many people that I had known. A few were in treatment together. They relapsed, and overdosed. My best friend at the time was Jason Shepard. Jason had taken his own life during this time. Losing all these people got me to thinking.

 
I started to wonder, how can I make a difference? How could I help save someone’s life? I started to share my thoughts with a couple of the therapists there in treatment. These ladies saw something in me I had yet to discover. Catie and Lori really started encouraging me to shift into the field of social work. They both encouraged me to take the training to become a Certified Peer Support.

 
With their encouragement, as well as encouragement from my friend Ali, I signed up for the training. During the training a shift happened to me. I started to build self-esteem. I really looked within myself, I realized my story could help someone. I could see my skills I had when I was in active addiction and put them to work in my recovery.

 
Living the life I had lived, I thought I lived in this narrow, crazy world, but I began to see the world was so much bigger than that. My views on everything started to change in a positive way. It was like looking out a window with a whole new view.
I realized I was in a revolution. The person I had become was not the one I was born with. I doubt I came into this world being so hateful and discriminated. I realized these are all things I inherited, adopted, and learned in the society I grew up in.

 
I am sharing this story about myself so you can understand the reformation I made. I want to share my experiences and my story to empower others. My mission is to help tear down barriers that so many are challenged with. These barriers prevent so many from achieving long-term recovery. We have some gaps we need to fill in.

 
SMASHING STIGMAS.

 
Stigmas! What are stigmas? How are they created? What is a result of them? How do we add to or encourage stigmas?
Stigmas are not created by our own pre-investigation. We adopt them, either from our environment, our culture, our parents, or friends. Regardless of where we received them, until we know another perception of the statement, we are going to continue to be part of adding the problems of Stigmas.

 
Stigmas create barriers, barriers that prevent individuals from transitioning back into society, achieving long-term recovery. We add to stigmas by the way we act, or even talk. Our language has to change if we are going to make a difference.
Education is the key. So many are unaware that they are even creating any harm to our society. After all, we are all connected. We are all human beings. We are all brothers, sisters, mothers, daughters, grandparents, and so on.

 
When we refer to people, we need not separate them from the rest of the world.

 
It’s not those people, these people, naming someone Homeless: their name is not Homeless. What if you were a cashier at a store? And everyone separated you like you were different and called you (cashiers), “those people.” Individuals experiencing homelessness, addiction, or a mental illness, are still human beings.

 
Today in my life, I live my life as a leader in the Recovery Community. I set my intentions to be present, to be in the moment, to show up where the Universe wants me to be, so I can be of service wherever possible. To be available when someone calls, reaching out.

 
I belong to a spiritual group where I do so much work to live my life in peace and harmony. We create positive energy to spread through us all.

 
I have been a volunteer at an Organization by the name of USARA (Utah Support Advocate Recovery Awareness).

 
I have also been a full-time student. In closing, I just want to say addiction is a shame-based issue: if you or anyone you know is struggling, please reach out to me. I am a networker, advocate, and I am good with resources.

 
Dan Davidson
Certified Peer Support Specialist
Author

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