BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — Justin Rogers is a familiar face at the YMCA of Southern West Virginia – a place where he finds peace and faces the truth. Rather, it is a very heavy truth involving 100-pound dumbbells, for starters.
“A 45-pound plate will always be 45 pounds,” Rogers said. “I’ve had friends lie to me. I’ve had family lie to me. I’ve had preachers lie to me… of course, exes. But that weight will never lie.”
After all, he knows a thing or two about pushing through and facing the truth head-on. Fifteen years of opioid addiction ultimately led to Rogers to jail. He was charged with delivery of a controlled substance and sentenced to four years of probation.
“I was kind of thrown to the wolves,” Rogers said. “I had no job. I had no car. All my bridges were burned. I knew I wouldn’t build those back up overnight.”
Following his sentence, he got clean for two years and worked on the road for another two. But with a second daughter coming into his life, he wanted to convert his career into a calling.
Eventually, an opening for a peer recovery support specialist at Compass Counseling came his way. Rogers explained his work helps those healing set goals for their lives and find the essentials needed to succeed.
“You would be surprised how many people don’t know how to get an ID, simple things like that,” Rogers said. “Simple skills that we take for granted every day – like build a resume, interview properly.”
More importantly, Rogers noted the overall mission for his clients is not just to gain a solid footing and take the first steps, but for them to go from interdependence to independence.
“We have to walk our own walk,” Rogers said. “We have to strengthen ourselves enough to be able to help someone walk in their own journey, but we cannot walk for them. We advocate for them, be their cheerleader, and provide as much help as we possibly can, so they can walk on their own.”
Looking back, Rogers believes how he looks and takes on life can help others push through in their own passage.
“I’ve been able to take my greatest curse and make it my biggest blessing to help others,” Rogers said. “I tell people all the time: ‘This isn’t a job for me. This is a lifestyle.’ It truly is.”
As of May 11, 2021, Rogers is officially four years clean.