NJPR would like to assure you that we are still here to support you during this severely stressful time in all of our lives. We, peers, are here to help keep you on track with your recovery and your wellness. We are here for you. If you need to connect, do not hesitate to call us. 8am to 10pm, 7 days a week.




My name is Jenna Bonstein and I am a person in long-term recovery from substance use since February 8th, 2015. This is my experience about addiction and recovery, not unique in any way, nevertheless, it is my story. Before I could remember, I was dealing with behavioral issues as a young child, a lot of self-doubt and anxiety before drugs were ever introduced. I always felt that I was not good enough, pretty enough, or smart enough. I started drinking alcohol when I was 13, and it was a mixture of curiosity and rebellion. The moment I drank and felt a buzz, ALL of those feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy disappeared. I felt pressure to fit in from my peers and being “cool” definitely seemed more important to me than doing the right thing during my early adolescence years. By the time I was 15, I was drinking, smoking marijuana and experimenting with harder drugs more than just casually on the weekends. I had lost all control over the use of these substances; I was lying to my family and the people that I loved and my world and decisions were based off of getting and using substances.

A childhood friend and I started dating when I was 15 years old. We experimented with alcohol and drugs together. As the substance use got worse, I started to see a complete shift in character and our relationship became rocky and unstable. We dated for 3 years and when he died in 2011, my whole world came crashing down too fast for me to comprehend. When I was 20, Jeffrey passed away from an opioid overdose and I was facing charges for driving while intoxicated. This was a start of a wake-up call for me. Unfortunately, I was still struggling with the grief, pain and the complete devastation of what my life had become due to my substance use and I had no way of coping with my life other than the alcohol and drugs. The problem was the solution. The solution was the problem. I was fighting an internal battle of getting sober and using to numb the pain. A lot of people who battle substance use disorder can relate and understand that there is a desire to stop, and at the same time, there is a desire to continue. Both feel real and powerful. It is a deathly complicated paradox.

As time went on into my early 20’s, I continued to encounter more painful consequences and multiple arrests due to my substance use.

By God’s grace on August 2013, I got my second DWI. This arrest changed my reality since I was facing jail-time and losing my license for up to 2 years. I finally was ready to ask for help as I found myself in a desperate and broken place. This was the beginning of the journey to recovery. I started attending 12-step meetings and admitted that I had a problem and I didn’t know what to do about it. It was humbling to say “I don’t know what to do but I am willing to do whatever it takes to not feel this way anymore.” I wanted to stop making destructive decisions and hurting the ones I love.

Eventually, I was lead to a Christian church called Calvary Chapel. I was saved and I am living a whole new life in Christ (Isaiah 43 18-19). I have learned that God uses all things for good (Romans 8:28). These are promises that I hold onto and find true in my recovery. I began to be grateful for what God was starting to do. I met people that guided me out of the darkness and helped me find a purpose and a calling.

Recovery has given me a life worth living and I am very grateful for all of the amazing opportunities that I have been given. I have been able to share my story in schools and in the community with teenagers, parents and local officials in hopes to help people not go down the same path I did and break the stigma attached to addiction. Every day, I get to participate in my recovery, no matter how I feel or what is going on. I make a decision to stay the course. There is hope in recovery for everyone, regardless where you’ve been or what you’ve done. I am blessed that I am able to help individuals see the light and guide them in this process. I am also eternally grateful for the ongoing support I have received from people in my life. The best part of being a recovery support specialist is being able to give back the same love, support and encouragement that I have received in my journey of recovery.