Recovering addict talks about coping with COVID stress

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For National Recovery Month, PNC spoke with recovering addict Jesse Mendiola on ways to cope instead of smoking dope.

The public health pandemic has brought to light many issues facing our community and as the stresses of the lockdown continue to play out, a number of people may fall back on old bad habits in an effort to cope.

For National Recovery Month, PNC spoke with recovering addict Jesse Mendiola on ways to cope instead of smoking dope.

Mendiola is a four-time convicted felon with 23 years of active addiction to methamphetamine behind him. He has been clean and sober for many years — a feat that many other addicts are still aspiring for. Relapse often occurs along the way but Mendiola shares you can overcome temptation.

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“My advice to people out there struggling with addiction at this time is don’t let the stress get to you. You know words are very easy to say but very difficult to do right for some. Don’t let the stress overcome you with a tsunami of emotions that are just going to bring you down further and further,” Mendiola says.

Oftentimes, addicts turn to their addiction in an effort to cope with and escape the stresses surrounding them. But Mendiola reminds them that they have all been at rock bottom many times and there’s nothing that can’t be handled to get them through these turbulent times.

“They just have to remain strong. My contact information is out there if anyone needs me. They can hit me up on Facebook messenger and I would definitely offer my ear and I will listen to you. I just won’t hear you, I will listen to you,” Mendiola said.

While Mendiola has not felt the urge to relapse now, he shares his experiences in dealing with his demons early on in his recovery.

“Every time I felt that life is throwing me in a maelstrom of emotions, I immediately say a prayer and God has always led me in the right direction. Aside from that, you need to have a strong familia bond. There are people who don’t have that strong familial bond which is where treatment centers come in play,” Mendiola said.

He added: “A lot of people during these times are going to …I don’t want to say it…but won’t have the strength to carry through in terms of their relapses. But relapse doesn’t mean the end of it you’re only human. This pandemic we are just stuck in a storm but the storm isn’t going to last forever.”

With Governor Lou Leon Guerrero’s executive order extending the lockdown by another week, Mendiola says he empathizes with small businesses and all those struggling. He recognizes that some may not have the faith to press forward.

“Suicide is not an answer, relapse is not an answer. I know we have to provide but you know what? Your health, well-being, and your mental state, are more important than any bottom dollar. I try not to connect my mental health and well-being with financial status,” Mendiola says.

Next week, we continue the conversation with Mendiola taking a look at the importance of support systems.

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Jolene Toves
Jolene joined the PNC team in 2017, as a producer, co-anchor and investigative reporter covering law enforcement, courts and crimes. Notable coverage includes the Ehlert case, the Mark Torre Jr. trial, the Allan Agababa trial, exclusive pieces on the Life of a Drug Dealer/Addict, and Life behind bars...the story of Honofre Chargualaf and Kevin Cruz. In 2019, she was promoted to Assistant News Director and Lead Anchor. From 2015 to 2017 she served as Public Relations and Promotions Manager, for the Hotel Nikko Guam handling local radio and advertorial promotions, as well as produced and directed tv commercials for the hotel. Prior to this she worked with KUAM for three years as a reporter and segment host. She began her journalism career in 2012, working with Glimpses of Guam contributing to the Guam Business Magazine, R&R magazine, MDM magazine and the Marianas Business Journal.