Former drug user advocates holistic approach to becoming sober

Posted: Updated:
THE BRONX -

A former drug user turned activist says a holistic approach to treatment is what helped her get sober and put her life back on track.

Traumatic events led Marilyn Reyes to self-medicate her emotions through substance abuse.

"Being molested as a young girl, being raped as a young woman, it was very hard for me to deal with,” says Reyes.

In her late 20s, she turned to crack cocaine and heroin. Drug dealing landed her in jail twice in the 90s. When she was released, she tried different programs, but it wasn’t until discovering the Harm Reduction Coalition that she found her way.

Reyes says it was their holistic approach to treatment that has enabled her to become and remain sober. She says the home-like nature of the organization, acupuncture and reiki treatment gave her the strength to feel like she can belong somewhere.

Reyes tells News 12 that she is now an activist and co-chair for the Peer Network, a branch of the coalition. She advocates in the community on the dangers of HIV and Hepatitis C and participates in outreach programs, providing condoms to the public and handing out clean syringes with the goal of saving lives through harm reduction and the peer network.

Reyes credits the coalition for preparing her to work in the field, especially when she was continually denied elsewhere.

"Other places where I went, I was always denied because I had a felony conviction,” she says. “[The coalition] gave me my life back, and I'm so grateful for every part of my journey. It didn't happen overnight, but I made it and I'm still here and I'm still going to continue the fight."

  • SlideshowsMore>>

  • Aftermath of bridge collapse in Genoa, Italy

    Aftermath of bridge collapse in Genoa, Italy

    A general view of the Morandi bridge which collapsed on August 14, 2018 in Genoa, Italy.A general view of the Morandi bridge which collapsed on August 14, 2018 in Genoa, Italy.
    A general view of the Morandi bridge which collapsed on August 14, 2018 in Genoa, Italy.A general view of the Morandi bridge which collapsed on August 14, 2018 in Genoa, Italy.

    A bridge on a main highway linking Italy with France collapsed in the Italian port city of Genoa during a sudden, violent storm, sending vehicles plunging 45 meters (nearly 150 feet) into a heap of rubble.

    A bridge on a main highway linking Italy with France collapsed in the Italian port city of Genoa during a sudden, violent storm, sending vehicles plunging 45 meters (nearly 150 feet) into a heap of rubble.

  • Boogie Down Bites Photos

    Boogie Down Bites Photos

    From pizza to chopped cheese sandwiches and the Bronx salad, News 12 brings you Boogie Down Bites!From pizza to chopped cheese sandwiches and the Bronx salad, News 12 brings you Boogie Down Bites!

    Here are some of the dishes featured on Boogie Down Bites. 

    Here are some of the dishes featured on Boogie Down Bites. 

  • Guide: Thrilling roller coasters in the tri-state area

    Guide: Thrilling roller coasters in the tri-state area

    THE JOKER is located at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ.THE JOKER is located at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ.

    Looking for some excitement this summer? Check out some of these thrilling and extreme roller coasters, all located in the tri-state area.

    Looking for some excitement this summer? Check out some of these thrilling and extreme roller coasters, all located in the tri-state area.

sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 20 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login or create an account to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to news12.com while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."