Meet Michael McCutcheon, a Jefferson County community member, hardworking volunteer and staff serving local individuals with substance use disorder (SUD), a man with lived-experience, a Recovery Hero.
Michael has been in recovery for 15 years. He courageously recognizes that relapse is a part of recovery, he encourages the emphasis of recovery to be less on “5 years without substances” and more on “all I have is today”. This honest approach to recovery has allowed him to build strong connections and relationships with other community members with substance use disorder, ultimately supporting one another in their daily pursuit of a healthy and thriving lifestyle.
Michael’s passion for supporting others pours out into everything he does. “My approach is to love people first, share my recovery story, and then listen to what people need and meet them where they are at.”
Through years of giving back to the community, he continues to learn and cater his approach to better honor and serve in a person-centered way. A few examples of the many ways Michael practices this:
He brings dignified meals to community members on the margins. Shirley Moss at Port Townsend Food Bank donates food and professional cooks donate their talents to prepare prime rib and stuffed pork loin dinners, Michael then coordinates to bring the delicious food directly to people experiencing homelessness.
He creates personalized hand-written “business cards” that offer contact information for someone to connect with him in a time of need. Michael works for Olympic Peninsula Health Services, a local suboxone clinic, and he goes above and beyond to connect people with resources.
He always carries naloxone with him, offering kits to anyone and everyone. “I’ve even nailed a naloxone kit to a wall before, saying ‘if anyone knows anyone who may need this, here you go.’”
He answers calls at all hours of the night. “People in recovery don’t usually need support during 9a-5p, its 10p-2a when resources need to be available.”
He finds hope and gratitude in every interaction.
Michael shared that the small changes that he observes give him hope. When a person reaches out for help, or begins to lower their walls, shares their honest feelings and desires—these are small areas of growth that make all the difference. Yet, while Michael finds hope in the growth and recovery of those around him, often those individuals find hope in Michael himself. This mutual respect, trust, and vulnerability creates a sense of community and support that ultimately fosters a strong path to recovery.
To Michael, “recovery” is not necessarily a reset back to life before drugs or alcohol, as some people never had a time in their life where addiction was not present. Rather, “recovery” is the ability to find gratitude in everything, and the transformation of one’s weaknesses to strengths. As a child, Michael faced many hardships that led him to look around to others for cues and guidance. To this day, Michael holds onto this habit of observing those around him, but now he is observing with the intention of looking out for others’ safety and well-being. He notices the human dignity of everyone he encounters and does all he can to support them in a way that they are “not just living, but thriving.”
Thank you, Michael. You are a shining example of what it means to be a Recovery Hero.