Blog - Gavin Foundation (2024)

Duran MacArthur(right), with Governor Maura Healey(center), and a fellow Gavin Foundation staff member Cierra Campbellat a fun recovery event.

“Alone I can’t, together we can.” – Duran MacArthur

By Luke Schmaltz, VOICES Newsletter Editor

Duran MacArthur’s journey started making sense when he realized recovery doesn’t have to be a bummer.

Initially, recovery was bleak, preachy, and clinical. Eventually, MacArthur found community in a recovery center that reflected his personality.

“I was a hopeless drug addict and an alcoholic for 20 years,” he begins. “I could never get it right. It brought me to some dark places I never thought I would be in. I never saw a way. I went to AA and NA. But I didn’t like sitting in a meeting in the basem*nt of a dark church. Where is the fun in that?”

A Light in the Darkness

“I’m a big fun in recovery guy. I stumbled across these things called recovery centers. My first experience in a recovery center was when I was in my last treatment facility. They sent me to a place in South Boston. I didn’t know where I was going but as I approached this house, I heard laughter. When I walked in the door, I saw pictures of people in the recovery community having fun. I was greeted by a smiling person who said, ‘Hey, welcome toDevine Recovery Center, come on in.’”

“That’s how I began to build my network and become comfortable sharing in front of others because I was welcomed with open arms. I learned how to have fun without putting a drink or a drug into my body.”

“I like to bring the inner child out of myself and the inner child out of others. These things I do are great experiences, because for 20 years all I had were negative experiences. I was trying to find a family with drugs or alcohol, I surrounded myself with the wrong people, the wrong atmosphere and that is what consumed my life.”

Fun For Everyone

“I am three years in recovery. The people in the Devine Recovery Center showed me how to have fun without drinking or doing drugs. It brought me back to the things I did as a child. We play softball, flag football, wiffleball – friendly competition. We do kickball tournaments and talent shows. We are going to do a recovery Family Feud. I’m going to dress up like Steve Harvey and we’re going to put recovery center against recovery center. Last March we did a March Madness wild wing challenge during basketball season. We rented out a hall, four different recovery centers cooked wings, we picked 10 people from the crowd to judge the wings to pick the winner.”

“I’m a big collaboration guy, The more the merrier. I reach out to other recovery centers. Last Halloween we had a party – Recover on the Harbor – with four other recovery centers. Events like that make it easier for people in recovery to meet others in recovery. We have fun, we dress up in costumes, we hire a DJ, and we dance to our favorite songs. We go on sober cruises, we go to the zoo, to the aquarium and we take field trips to the beach. I recover out loud so I can show people it is possible, and we can have fun.”

A Fallen Friend

“I lost my best friend to this disease. His parents still blame me for it. But I know, deep down inside it was his choice, his decision. This happened 10 years ago. He was a guy who looked out for me. We grew up together and he was a guy I idolized. I was turned off by the ‘God’ thing in early recovery, so I just talked to Johnny. We called him Johnny Cadillac. I prayed to him until I found my higher power.”

Dealing with this grief for over 10 years, MacArthur recalls how the loss affected him and how he worked through it. “It sucked,” he says. “I held onto it for a while until I started talking about it to our close friends. They said, ‘You can’t blame yourself.’ I needed to hear it from someone else because sometimes you feel so bad and start believing what people are saying when it wasn’t your fault.”

Connection is Key

MacArthur is three years into recovery, and attributes his success to connection with a community of peers. “I have a big network of people in recovery. When I found these people, I was able to get deep down into it and talk about things and actually cry and get through those feelings.”

“We have a one o’clock meeting at the Devine Recovery Center every afternoon. It is an all-recovery meeting, so everybody is welcome, no matter what you are recovering from. It’s all-inclusive. I do a reading, everybody sits in a circle, and each person gets a chance to share. That way, people can get comfortable speaking. It’s not like you’re walking into a room of 80 people. It’s usually 15 to 20 people, so they are able to get comfortable talking in a small group. That’s what worked for me.”

For people struggling with substance use, MacArthur advises the approach that worked for him. “Find a local recovery center, walk in the door, and you’ll be greeted with a smile. Here, we will ask you what you need, and if we don’t have it, we will find someone who does.”

Blog - Gavin Foundation (2024)
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