Facing 40 years prison, now the face of recovery: Coaches help others heal in Wheeling

Ohio County

Recovery coaches are changing lives after changing their own

WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) — It could be your neighbor, or friend, or you  –  Substance abuse beats a person down, until they feel like a waste. But now, more people are overcoming their demons and coming alongside others to help them muster the strength to keep the good fight. 

Through the Youth Services System, 16 more recovery coaches are being trained this week in Wheeling, many of whom know first-hand the growing pains of the recovery process.

“I was looking at 40 years in prison but I was given the opportunity to switch my life around a little bit.  

Travis Mcbride, Mark’s House Recovery Coach

“I was an addict for 20 years and I’ve been clean for five. After a while it just got stale and I knew I really wanted to become a recovery coach.” 

Tonya Rodriguez, Recovery Coach at Mary and Martha’s House  

Travis’s journey is an inspiration to some, like Doug Abner, who’s been at Mark’s House for four months after leaving prison. 

“I’ve been sober for a long time now. But, there’s a spot where you come to in recovery when you think you’re good, it’s usually when you’re not. So, having people around, recovery coaches like Travis; they recognize that and they’re able to step in, talk to you, and sit you down. Because really in recovery you’re never better.” 

Doug Abner, Recovering at Mark’s House 

And Kayla, who after checking into the Mary and Martha House last Thursday says she’s already at home. 

“Being away from my family has been the hardest, but this is like a second family, so it’s easy.” 

Kayla Gibson, Recovering at the Mary and Martha House

A recovery coach doesn’t say ‘It’s simple, just stay clean.’ They help you get your license, apply for food stamps. They’re there for the highs and they’re there for the lows. 

“I bought a car. It was the first car I bought in a long time. And I thought I was there. I was on my way, you know what I mean? But when it came to tags and insurance that I needed for the car, it kind of got overwhelming because I haven’t been there in a while. So, Travis was there with me. He actually took me to buy the car. He walked me through the process. He was there with me.” 

Doug Abner, Recovering at Mark’s House 

‘Together’ is the theme that makes a world of difference.  

These coaches say they carry people’s hope when they can’t carry it themselves and the toughest battel is self-forgiveness. 

The main message: You are worthy of great things.  

“Recovery is awesome. It’s difficult but it’s worth it and it’s beautiful and I’m glad to be sober today,” said Kayla.

“We hear a lot about people who are overdosing and have a lot of consequences with their substance use, but we want people to know there’s a lot of people in recovery in the Wheeling area. People can and do recover.” 

Valery Staskey, Substance Use Prevention Coordinator at YSS, facilitator of Recovery Coaches

YSS has trained over 150 recovery coaches and there is always room for more.

“I don’t even know if he has a personal life or not,” joked Doug. “He just does so much to help us.”

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