Riverside Celebrates Graduation 4 with REAL LIFE

At the end of June, 12 men were recognized at a graduation ceremony that celebrated their completion of the REAL LIFE Opioid program at Riverside Regional Jail. This marked the fourth graduation ceremony of this program facilitated by REAL LIFE at Riverside.

The keynote speaker, AJ, previously graduated the program as a part of the first class. He began his speech by sharing, “The REAL LIFE Program at Riverside is the first thing I’ve ever completed,” giving light to just how much work goes into this program and how rewarding it is to accomplish it.

While this program has a focus on opioids, REAL stands for Recovery from Everyday Addictive Lifestyles. Key components of all programming provided by REAL LIFE is to not only address the addiction to substances, but also the other associated lifestyles and the behaviors associated with such behavior. At the ceremony, graduates were given a platform to reflect such growth throughout their journey.

For Alvin, he “learned to look at addiction from a different point of view.” This perspective goes far beyond drug use and includes negative lifestyle habits, a crucial concept for recovery.

Ervin Hart, REAL LIFE’s program facilitator, also incorporated the Narcotics Anonymous 12-step program, which resonated well with the participants.

The first step was reiterated by most—being powerless over addiction as life became unmanageable. Graduate Scott shared that through this program, he now feels equipped with the tools to lead a thriving life.

Participants mentioned the role of acceptance in this learning process, and it was applied in many different ways:

In life, Kenneth was able to “accept the things [he] cannot change”.

In social support, it was the “fellowship of other recovering addicts,” according to Jaron.

In addiction, after realizing that “addiction is real,” Aaron “learned to accept [his] own addiction.”

The power of acceptance helped some understand their spirituality.

Larry was fueled with a “passion for recovery,” and believes God will use him “as a light for other addicts who are still suffering from active addiction.”

Regardless of strong faith, obstacles along the way are unavoidable—but Nick “believe[s] that it’s part of the plan.”

Every graduate stated their appreciation to Riverside Regional Jail for allowing this opportunity, to REAL LIFE for the guidance, and to the facilitator, Ervin Hart, for leading the way towards a new beginning.

The success of the REAL LIFE Program participants was best summarized by Teron as a “real life changing experience.”