Participants recovers and returns to school with the help of Writers in the Community

By Libby Sherwood
Staff Writer

After seven years in and out of rehab, Matt Cochran is back on track.

Through a workshop offered by Writers in the Community at Prescott House, the rehab facility where he was in treatment at the time, Cochran got introduced to Prescott College and to creative writing.

He said the course provided him an outlet to explore his “creative side.” In addition, it also gave him a more intellectual perspective on writing, and the inspiration to apply the skills he learned at the workshop to his everyday life.

“My life was a complete mess,” said Cochran, “I couldn’t stop gambling, hold a job, or take care of myself.”

Cochran described the schedule at his live-in rehab as “intense”; in fact, he was in the minority of those who manage to make it through the multi-month program. “On a typical day I would wake up at 5:30, go to a meeting and do chores – all before breakfast.”

When the Prescott College class, Writers in the Community, began teaching a creative writing workshop at the center, Cochran leapt at the opportunity to change his monotonous schedule. “In the very first class I was reunited with an old hobby,” he said. “I had not read for leisure in ten years.”

“Reading and writing gave me an opportunity to escape my surroundings and my emotional distress.” He described getting to know his peers better through the program; his favorite part were the warm-up exercises in which “the class was laughing and having a good time.”

Cochran explained that the experience gave him a chance to interact with the community outside of rehab. “Participating in Writers in the Community helped my sobriety because it was the first time I had fun doing something with a group of people that didn’t involve alcohol, drugs, or gambling.”

After graduating from the rehab program, Cochran considered going back to school. He wanted to boost his self-confidence and broaden his job opportunities.  “I’m sick of working a dead-end, low-income job,” he said.

Clean and sober now for three years, Cochran is enjoying his first year at Prescott College.  On schedule to earn his degree in December 2012, he looks forward to experiencing Writers in the Community from the other side, as a student teacher. He hopes to influence and inspire other recovering addicts, as his instructors did for him.

This article appeared in the March 2011 print edition of The Raven Review.
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