In Atlanta this week, leaders from across the nation will ascend on Atlanta for Operation UNITE’s 2023 Rx and Illicit Drug Summit. Each year they name Hope Ambassadors, which highlights stories of people in recovery, and those who have impacted the recovery journey of others.
"There have been laughter and tears, good and bad days, but I have never been alone. The words that I would use to describe this journey are restoration, healing, and salvation."
Here is Samantha Dowden’s perspective …
Sam has spent the past 12 years of her life on her journey through recovery. Prior, she spent 23 years experiencing addiction through her battle with alcohol and drugs.
“I believe there is nothing that has happened in my life that is in vain,” said Dowden. “I use every single ounce of pain and joy in my journey to help someone else. That is my purpose and my destiny.”
Her perspective though goes back further. Often you will hear that substance use is a generational disease. Sam experienced addiction and its impact as a wife, mother, daughter, and granddaughter of those who have struggled.
“I do not believe that there is ever anyone who is so far gone that there is no hope,” added Dowden. I believe that hope is available to us all and if we have hope, it is our duty to make sure we try to share that hope with others every single day.”
What does being named a Hope Ambassador mean to you?
“I have experienced many accomplishments during my 12 years of sobriety, and being nameda “Hope Ambassador” is one of the ways that I can continue to carry the message that I sodevoutly believe in, “as long as there is breath, there is hope”. I truly believe that if all you haveis hope, then you have all you need. I am honored to be considered a hope ambassador.”
How have you used your story to inspire others?
“I share the worst and the best of my testimony to encourage and inspire others, and hopefully by being open and honest, others will see in me what I saw in someone in recovery years ago. Letting others know they are not alone and they, too, can recover is what I set out to do 12 years ago.”
When you think about the word HOPE, what does it mean to you?
“HOPE has been the most important word to me in my recovery journey. I have had days when literally hope is all I had, and I held on for dear life. I knew if I had hope, and did not give up on myself, just as many did not give up on me, that I could make it another day. Then as I began to go out and help others, I realized the most important thing that I could share is hope.”
What would you tell someone battling a substance use disorder who is considering treatment?
“I would tell them that they are worth so much more than they know. I would ask them to let people love them until they can love themselves. When you feel alone and afraid, please be courageous and take the first step to joy and freedom. You are so very loved.”
Tell us your most important advice to someone in early recovery.
“I would want them to know how courageous they are. My advice is please do not give up on the miracle that is happening in their life. The best things in life take time and so does a strong foundation including God, family, and healthy relationships. On the good days, remember how blessed you are; on the bad days, remember how blessed you are.”