Terrie Alexander grew up not far from “The Corner,” the infamous open-air drug market that sits amidst the poverty of West Baltimore.
Admittedly, Alexander became addicted to cocaine and heroin and she repeatedly failed at rehabilitation. It wasn’t until she became pregnant with her son, that she found the determination needed to make a significant change in her life.
There may be other stories like Alexander’s, but several Baltimore area officials suggested that hers could be an inspiration during September, which is designated as National Recovery Month.
“Terrie helps fight stigma with her amazing recovery story,” said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. “She is a credible messenger reaching people where they are.”
Alexander was honored this month by the nonprofit, Institutes for Behavior Resources, Inc. not only as an individual in long-term recovery but as manager of the REACH Intensive Outpatient Program for Addiction Recovery, which the organization has named in her honor.
Founded in 1960, the Institutes for Behavior Resources, Inc., is an independent nonprofit research, services and educational organization headquartered in Baltimore with a mission to enhance the growth of the behavioral sciences and their application to human affairs through their research, clinical services and consulting and education initiatives.
Focusing on helping others who were suffering as she had, Alexander earned degrees in addiction counseling and mental health technology from Baltimore City Community College and she completed more than 400 internship hours at the Center for Addiction and Pregnancy where she had been successfully treated. Subsequently, Alexander obtained her Master’s degree in Social Work while working as a counselor and manager of the REACH Intensive Outpatient Program.
An interview scheduled with The Baltimore Times and Alexander was canceled because of her ongoing battle with cancer, but officials urged the newspaper to tell her story.
“Terrie’s incredible story will inspire future generations of ‘changemakers’ to step up in our communities and make a real difference in helping combat this terrible crisis of addiction that we face in Baltimore and around the country,” said Maryland Congressman John Sarbanes.
REACH officials say Alexander has remained busy helping others fight opioid and other substance use disorders. Her experience helps highlight the achievements of individuals who have reclaimed their lives in long-term recovery while also honoring the providers who make recovery possible.
“She is the embodiment of National Recovery Month’s focus and goals,” according to an Institutes for Behavior Resources news release. “Alexander not only turned her life around after 17 years of abuse, but she has gone on to help many others get sober and she’s become a recognized community leader in the fight against opioid abuse.”
The REACH Health Services program is a comprehensive outpatient substance use recovery program designed to deliver treatment to those in need.
“REACH Health Services made the decision to dedicate and name the Intensive Outpatient Program after Terrie Alexander in order to recognize her role in the creation of the program, her strong advocacy for patient rights and reducing stigma for people with substance use disorders, her efforts to educate the next generation of substance use disorder treatment providers and the inspiration she provides to all who cross her path,” said Joan Sperlein, the associate program director at REACH.
“Terrie is a remarkable person in so many ways and it is a true honor to be able to work with her and call her a friend.”