Shawn’s Purpose: A Story of Fatherhood and Recovery

While teaching his daughter her ABCs as a small toddler, Shawn W. practiced the ABCs of recovery for himself. Taught as a recovery tool, the letters represent a technique to shift negative thinking while in recovery from substance use.

For fifteen years, Shawn lived with addiction. Drugs consumed his life and in 2017 when his partner left Tucson with his one-year-old daughter, he was unhoused and found himself with little desire to live.

“Something stopped me from stepping out in traffic that day. I decided then to go to CODAC for help,” said Shawn.

Within 24 hours, Shawn was admitted into CODAC’s transitional living program for men where over a six-month span, he learned how to begin a new chapter: Life without drugs.

“I worked on my self-esteem, my confidence and understanding my addiction,” he said. Shawn reflected on how sobriety is not simply quitting drug use, but an entire way of living.

While working through his treatment program, Shawn also navigated the complex legal process to gain custody of his daughter, Gracelyn. He was actively engaged in parenting classes at CODAC and earned custody when Gracelyn was three years old. This moment was one of many representing Shawn’s commitment to his recovery and to being a responsible and loving father.

Shawn was hired at CODAC as a Peer Support Specialist in 2021.  Drawing from his own lived experience, he is dedicated to supporting people on their path to recovery. He even teaches parenting classes to others who are involved with the Department of Child Safety (DCS). He finds meaning in working with others with shared pasts.

From spelling practice to manicures, Shawn works to provide a comfortable, safe and stable life for his almost eight-year-old daughter. He finds structure and support amongst his faith community, Narcotics Anonymous groups and daily rituals that keep him grounded.

“The best part about being a dad,” Shawn shared, “is coming home from work to a 50-pound ball of pure joy running towards me for a hug.

“She is my bestie and my purpose.”

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