Former drug addict begins new role with youth as state’s first peer recovery support specialist


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KARK) — A woman who battled drug addictions for 10 years is now a state employee in a newly created position designed to mentor troubled youth.

BonnIe Stribling, a Russellville native, has been working as a peer recovery support specialist at the Department of Youth Services since July.

She mentors one-on-one with teens ages 14-21. So far, she has met with more than 30 of them.

She calls it her dream job, just years removed from battling drug addictions of her own.

“At that time, I just wanted to get high, and if you had the means to do it I was going to do it,” Stribling says.

Stribling says during the time she was addicted to substances, she gave birth to a son, got arrested for theft and hit rock bottom.

“It is about what I did and what happened to me, ya know? That’s an important part of my story, but I keep coming back to what I’ve overcome and what I’ve done to stay away from that lifestyle,” Stribling says.

She hopes her path influences some teens to take their own detour.

“The look on their face is priceless when they start to realize that I know what they’re talking about.” Stribling says.

She works out of the Youth Services Center in Alexander.

She takes pride in the fact that what was once her battle is being used to help others fight their battles with.

“I can embrace it and use it as a tool,” Stribling says.

“I mean, that’s the dream.”

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