Scholars Profile: Anna Falisiewicz

March 29, 2019

For Anna Falisiewicz, like for many who suffer from substance use disorder, multiple episodes of treatment eventually led her to long-term recovery.  Recovery is a long-term process, one that requires persistence, self-direction, treatment, supportive services, community support, and personal grit.

Anna’s substance use disorder began during her adolescent years.  “I struggled with drug and alcohol addiction since I was fifteen,” she said. She started seeking help at the age of 18 when she attended her first 12-step meeting.  Eventually, Anna made her way to several different inpatient and outpatient programs, desperately seeking recovery.

“For years, I thought it was impossible for me to stay sober. This was not from lack of trying. In September 2015, I finally hit my bottom and stopped digging, realizing drugs were not a solution for me anymore. I was miserable, unable to get high, and in extreme physical pain from a car accident I was just in. I was a poor sight to see, but I needed to experience that misery to change my life. I was desperate, and I went back to a program in my area which I was previously in and took detox meds for a couple of weeks. I officially surrendered on October 5th, 2015, the first day I was completely substance free. I was still unhappy at first, but my life got better as I got a sponsor, did step work, and changed. I was unwilling to go back to my old miserable way of life, and that made me willing to go to any lengths for victory over drugs and alcohol. I took suggestions and did my steps thoroughly and honestly, never giving up until the miracle happened.”

Anna entered recovery at the age of twenty-three and recently celebrated three years of long-term sustained recovery.

Recovery has brought to Anna what it brings to many in the same journey – a return to relationships with family members and a great group of friends.  It has also brought her “empathy, compassion, and love in my heart, along with ambition, hopes, and dreams.” Through her 12-step fellowship, she has been able to find a supportive network and the necessary steps to help her along with her journey.  However, that alone is not what has kept Anna well; her recovery also includes psychiatric medication and weekly therapy with a psychologist. Anna recognizes that taking care of herself today includes taking care of her mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being.  As substance use disorder is a chronic disease, she stays “vigilant” in her recovery. “My life depends on that.”

Anna is currently a full-time student at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. She is majoring in social work with a minor in sociology. She successfully transferred from Brookdale Community College with an associate’s degree in health science, and her ultimate long-term goal is to receive a master’s degree. Her educational journey has taken her to study abroad in Mexico.  Her interest includes working with dual-diagnosed population, social welfare policy, and advocacy work. She says that she wants to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.” She has volunteered abroad and locally, and is passionate about service to others. “There are so many people who need help, and I will be happy in my career as long as I am helping somebody who needs help.”  Anna received an Ammon Academic award to support her educational goals for the Spring of 2019. She is positioned to graduate in May 2020.

Our blog features the profiles of other recipients of the scholarship award, as well as information about how to apply.