Recovering addicts raising awareness on addiction
MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee County has seen a nearly 60% increase in overdose deaths from 2016 to 2020, with 545 deaths recorded in 2020, according to the City of Milwaukee’s overdose dashboard.
At Serenity Inns in Milwaukee, men are taking the steps they need to find support on their journey to recover from addiction.
Garrett Stoecker is a resident at the Serenity Inns. He said he usually has busy days between work and his daily obligations, but when he has downtime, he enjoys sitting, reflecting and reading a good book.
It’s what helps keep his mind at ease and on the right track. Life for Stoecker hasn’t always been easy. He’s struggled with addiction.
“I’ve been an addict for over 30 years,” said Stoecker. “My main drug of choice was heroin.”
He was admitted for treatment at Serenity Inns once before in 2015, but this time, he said he’s taking his recovery seriously.
“Getting to Serenity was a godsend,” said Stoecker. “This time I’m putting everything I’ve got forth with my heart and soul to stay clean and sober. I’ve got over three months. That’s the longest I’ve had in my entire life.”
At the home, men participate in groups and projects that help them focus on necessary steps to prevent a relapse.
David Hudson is also a resident at Serenity Inns.
Hudson struggled with a crack addiction but got clean in 1998. He was able to maintain sobriety for 25 years.
He said he stopped going to meetings and stopped staying connected with his support system, which hurt his sobriety. Then he relapsed.
Through his battle with addiction, a life-changing moment brought him back to reality. He said he was supposed to marry the love of his life soon.
“We buried her three weeks ago from an overdose of fentanyl,” said Hudson. “Going to the funeral and seeing her laying in that casket … I touched her hand and felt how cold she was. It played a big part of me ready to get back into recovery because I don’t want to go out like that.”
Ken Ginlack is the CEO and executive director at Serenity Inns.
As someone who is in long-term recovery, he’s dedicated his career to making sure men who were once in his shoes get the support and help they need.
“I see the hopelessness in their eyes,” said Ginlack. “I remember having that same look. When I look into the guys’ eyes as they come into the program, it touches my soul. As I see them start to make a transformation and start to get their life back, and the hope come back, that’s the most rewarding thing for me than anything else.”
Hudson and Stoecker are just two of dozens that have received treatment over the years.
As Stoecker looks to the future, he said he’s got big aspirations.
“I want to go back to school to become a counselor,” he said.
He said he’s hoping to spend his days cherishing his health and helping others deal with addiction along the way.
If you are looking for information on substance use services in your community, call 211 or 833-944-4673 for the Wisconsin Addiction Recovery Helpline or visit addictionhelpwi.org.