RONCEVERTE, WV (WVNS) — If you told Jo Chestnut when she was in high school that she would be in the position she is in right now, as a Harm Reduction Coordinator Peer Recovery Support Specialist, she probably would not have believed you.

“For anyone to be a PRSS you have to be in recovery, long term recovery from substance use disorder, and this past January I celebrated my sixth year free from drugs, so that was super exciting,” Chestnut said.

In 2013, Chestnut went through drug court, which she said had a major impact on her life. After finishing drug court, she got married and stayed clean for awhile, but in 2016 things once again took a turn. While Jo was pregnant with her youngest son, she was diagnosed with alopecia and lost most of her hair. 

“I was so depressed. I didn’t pull myself out of that. I knew how to, but I did just didn’t and I did end up relapsing but luckily since I had gone through drug court I knew what I had to do to get back out of that,” Chestnut said.

Chestnut said she knew she had to get to a long-term rehab facility, and that’s when she entered Recovery Point in Charleston. 

She was there for 1 year and it was during that time she really figured out what she wanted in her career. 

“One of the things that you do on your way out is you are a peer mentor for the people coming in and I really really loved being in that position, so I decided when I completed to continue that career path for myself,” said Chestnut.

Chestnut now works as the Harm Reduction Coordinator at the Greenbrier County Health Department. Helping people every day to realize they can get through their addiction, with support along the way. 

“Harm reduction is a little different because not everyone is ready to cross that hump yet,” Chestnut said. “My job is to open that door for them and let them know that I am here because it is possible to get past that and we are here to help in anyway we can.”

Chestnut has not stop at just helping people with substance use disorder. She recently graduated from New River Community College with her Associate’s Degree and is currently attending Concord University. She is enrolled in the BSW program and plans to go into social work. 

All of this made possible with determination, and support from her family and peers. That is why now, she is paying it forward. 

“It is a miracle that I am alive. I have done a lot of ridiculous, stupid things, and that is another one of the reasons I want to get into this field. I feel like I have a purpose to survive,” Chestnut said.