Having spent eleven months at Koinonia, Issaih (pictured with community supporters Stewart & Theresa Tist) has a reason to celebrate his much-awaited and deserved graduation from the program. Although it wasn’t always easy, he recognizes the hard changes and challenges he’s faced during his stay. One big change he’s seen in himself is that he is much more patient and thinks through his choices before he decides to act. This is something he would like to continue to work on more after Koinonia as well. He says he’s much less impulsive and considers his future more than he used to. His Facility Supervisor Justin has had a big impact on him because he cares enough to be straightforward and up front with him. One hard part about being at Koinonia for Issaih was the whole group having to take responsibility and bear the consequences for someone else’s behavior that they didn’t own up to. Although this was hard, he wouldn’t change it because he recognizes the effectiveness.
School is a big part of Issaih’s life here at Koinonia, and he says it comes easy for him. It’s different for him here in that he can focus on his work more effectively without being chemically dependent. He enjoys his teacher and says school is more enjoyable because he’s funny and makes them all laugh. In fact, all the laughter and funny interactions with different people at Koinonia is what makes up some of Issaih’s favorite moments during the program. During the AA/NA meetings, Issaih has learned to take things one day at a time. Addictions are easier to face if you take recovery in small steps and don’t look forward past what you can handle. The twelve step workbook as part of the N/A A/A meetings had a big impact on Issaih because he said they really make you think about yourself and how your actions affect others. One particular assignment Issaih really got a lot out of was assigned to him by his Facility Supervisor Justin who had him read Lord of the Flies to teach him about leadership. The activity that stuck with Issaih the most during DCR (Day Care Rehabilitative) was coming in second place during the food eating contest in which the contestants got quite a surprise (poundcake filled with corn nuts)!
Being at Koinonia wasn’t all fun and games for Issaih – there was a lot of personal growth that came at a high price. During his stay, he learned that it’s ok to be himself; he doesn’t have to act differently than who he really is to gain respect. His relationship with his family has undergone some changes as well, Issaih feels he can now be completely honest with his family members and that he doesn’t have to hide or lie about things anymore – he can be completely straightforward. Issaih feels this is one of his greatest accomplishments since he came to Koinonia. He feels great relief that he can be around his family members without being high and has earned a higher level of trust and respect from them.
Life after Koinonia will be an adjustment for Issaih. Personal freedom and responsibility is something he will greatly appreciate, and it’s been hard earned! One of the hardest things for Issaih was being away from his family and missing them, but it encouraged him to do the best he can in the program so he can reunite with them more quickly. Upon graduation, he looks forward to living with his mom and step-dad and working towards going to college and possibly pursuing a career as a pilot to drop supplies off to remote areas. He knows that living with his family will be challenging and really wants to help out his mom and his sisters when he’s back.
Overall, Issaih is proud of the work he’s done at Koinonia and though he did his best in the program. He said he never held back in his phasework, and felt he could have done even better if he had put all of his effort into the program right away instead of holding out on his best efforts. Some advice he’d give to new residents would be that everything in the program has value and purpose, give it your all!