Understanding Addiction: Tennyson Marceau

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TennysonBARNET- It was a sunny fall afternoon in Barnet, Vermont. Tennyson Marceau was at the Bogie Brothers Motocross track volunteering his time to take pictures of the young riders, and to support the track's drug and alcohol-free initiative. The track is 100 percent sober and promotes healthy lifestyles among kids and teens in the area.

As Marceau began to talk, he noted the importance of educating our younger generations on the dangers of drug-use, as he knows the consequences of addiction first-hand. Substances became a part of his life at the age of 16. "I pretty much abused every kind of drug, everything from heroine to cocaine. Meth wasn't around so we had no access, but I guarantee I would've been doing that as well," he said.

Marceau's addiction eventually turned to crime and violence, and he was sentenced to ten years in federal prison when he was only 19 years old. That being said, he spent the majority of his early adulthood traveling up and down the east coast, moving from one federal prison to the next. Nevertheless, while incarcerated Marceau took his future into his own hands and decided to make a change. "I worked on myself. No one helped me with my addiction problems," he said.

For Marceau, reading was a major factor in his recovery. He noted authors such as Rhonda Barnes and John Locke. "It all depends on how you take that material," he said, noting the ways we in which we interpret writing, and how that shapes us internally. "Those books helped me level myself up and realize what I need to work on, and what inspires me to move on."

By the time Marceau hit the six-year mark in his sentence, he knew he was ready to leave. "I obviously had more time to sit and think about it, but I worked on myself enough where I was like, 'I'm done doing this.' One day I was just sitting in the common area, reading, The 48 Laws of Power, and I said, 'I'm done. I don't want to do this. I don't want to live like this for the rest of my life.' And I just started to actually focus on what I was going to do with my career after prison."

As well as being completely detoxed from the substances he once relied on, Marceau explained that he was psycologically ready to leave prison- a point in which he feels isn't reached by a majority of people in the same situation. "People go in there because they're troubled, or they have family issues, or they don't have a family, but there's no support for that," he said, and it was a void he intended to fill.

Upon his release, Marceau involved himself in helping others. Today, he is a Prevention Specialist at Northern Vermont Regional Hospital, educating the public about the hazards of substance misuse in all forms. He has completed numerous trainings with the US Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA). He's a recovery coach, helping people understand and address their addictions. And he also volunteers his time to recovery walks, giving speeches, and writing about his experiences.

Marceau concluded by discussing the ways in which his experiences in prison shaped him into the person he is today. "It helps me help other people and the understanding of the actual addictions themselves," he said. Moving forward, he hopes more and more people are inspired to share their stories in order to create a voice for addiction, and to show that recovery is possible. "Loneliness is a hard thing to overcome, and that's one of the things that prison taught me- how to be alone. If I'm okay with myself, then that's the beginning."

Pt. 1 Understanding Addiction: Zach Rhoads

Pt. 2 Understanding Addiction: William Liberatore

Pt. 3 Understanding Addiction: Cynthia Boyd

Pt. 4 Understanding Addiction: Mike Lucier