Finding Paths Away from Addiction

By Tiana Suazo

Addictions come in many forms: extreme sports, food, bad habits, drugs–any continuous habit that is detrimental to your health. No matter how one looks at addiction, I think the focus should be on “how do I begin to heal?” I believe this is one of the first questions to ask when confronting any kind of addiction. I think we should look at this as how to begin healing ourselves, rather than breaking cycles of addiction. How does one begin to heal? What are the steps that need to be taken to heal and how do we continue our healing? Now I am no medical expert and because each person is unique, what I describe may or may not work for some.

In my journey of healing, there were many things that have helped me along the way. Going to therapy was one of the first steps I took, and one that I happily continue. Therapy gave me the time to think about historical and intergenerational traumas, and how they have affected different parts of my being. Therapy also showed me how to work through my depression, and just gave me someone to talk to, to vent.

Therapy can mean being in an office with a medical professional, but I believe it is also finding space to allow you to reflect, breathe, cry, laugh, and just be. I found this space in the garden. Working with the earth, seeds, and water as my ancestor did has strengthened my connection with my culture. I was also able to grow food for my family and learn about the features of our land. This gave me a sense of fulfillment, and that sense is one of the most powerful things to fuel you in the healing journey.

I was also thankful for my education. In going through therapy and working the land, my education is what provided the foundation for understanding myself and everything around me. It helped me strengthen my self-worth and find value in my being. My education has taken me to places I never thought I would visit and has helped me accomplish things I had no idea I was capable of. Invest in your education and your skills. In my educational pursuit, led by my mother, she told me: you could lose your house, your car, everything you have, but you will always have your education to fall back on and rebuild.

Healing sometimes is not as easygoing as one may think. It requires a lot of work and facing yourself. I believe it is always important to remember to be forgiving and honest with yourself and others, but also know that your healing is not dependent on others. This is your journey for your health and spirit.

Tiana Suazo is a member of Taos and Jemez Pueblos in northern New Mexico and is Executive Director of Red Willow Center, located at Taos Pueblo (

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