Ruben Torres joined Greenwich House MMTP team in 2020 as a Certified Peer Recovery Advocate (CPRA). Ruben’s lived experience with Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and his passion for helping people on their road to recovery inspires many of clients and his coworkers. He has personally administered life-saving doses of Narcan to 28 individuals to date.
Tell us about your background.
I had a very tough childhood growing up in Brownsville. After years of having Substance Use Disorder, I wanted to enjoy life again. I missed my family. So I entered a recovery program.
How did it feel to be in treatment?
I was in recovery for 14 years. It was a very emotional experience. During that time, I went back to school, learned a lot about myself and about self-care. My self-esteem went up. Even my family noticed the changes. I was so happy to be invited to family gatherings again, and to mend old wounds.
What motivated you to become a CPRA?
I realized I was here for a purpose. I am a survivor. Seven years ago, I did volunteer work at a local organization that helped people get sober. That led me to getting certified as a CPRA.
What do you do at Greenwich House?
I help people create their personal recovery plans. Having my own lived experience with SUD helps me do my job better.
How has being a CPRA changed you?
Sharing my story has definitely helped me build rapport and establish relationships with our clients. It gives people hope that if I was able to make good changes in my life, that maybe they can too. Doing this kind of work is challenging emotionally but also gratifying. People tell me things that they have never told anyone else. When people tell me how much I have helped them, it makes me realize that I am doing the right thing by being a CPRA.
What advice do you have for people reluctant to seek help for their SUD?
People need to give themselves some slack. It’s okay to need help. And it might take you take more than one try. Every day is a new opportunity to make better choices. My motto is this, “Recovery is a process, not a schedule. Each day that passes by is another opportunity for you to make a change to better your life.”