Bryan Patriquin tackled two work-study jobs and earned straight A’s during the spring semester. His self-care present to himself?—to get the Psi Chi logo tattooed on his right calf.
As incredible as this is, there’s a lot more to his story, which has been told by local newspapers and television news, nationally on PBS, and even in international newspapers and television news. In addition to being a 27-year-old college senior at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), Bryan has also been in long-term recovery from Substance Use Disorder. He says, “For me, that means that neither drugs nor alcohol have made decisions in my life since November 29, 2011.”
Just five years ago, Bryan’s addiction cost him his parents and his wife. And although it is difficult to imagine, at the time, Bryan also weighed more than 500 pounds. But still, even through all of this, he didn’t want to quit using because he “felt like I was going to miss something” (Levitz, 2017; Wickham, 2015).
Bryan tried to stop using on his own, but he had to be hospitalized after a near-fatal heart attack. Then, after 18 months of sobriety, his parents invited him to live at their home again while he returned to college. Bryan recalls that their kindness brought tears to his eyes.
Today, Bryan is beyond proud to tell us this: “While in recovery, I have managed to average a 3.91 GPA in college, and six consecutive semesters of ranking President’s list honor roll. Psi Chi is an international family of helping professionals. I am proud to advertise what Psi Chi stands for!”
A Story of Ink
Bryan’s tattoo took four hours to complete at Avalon Ink in Nashua, NH, by tattoo artist Renee. As Bryan explains, “A tattoo will always tell a story about the person behind it. I chose this tattoo because the words psyche and cheires are part of my story.”
Psyche, or the general enrichment of the mind through scholarship, represents Bryan’s life because one of the biggest life decisions he has made in recovery was to invest in himself by attending college. Cheires, meaning hands, symbolizes the fellowship of people in his support system who helped him to be where he is today. About these people, he told PBS News Hour (2016), “It’s an emotional thing for me. They stuck behind me, and they supported me.” Today, he adds, “I would not be where I am today without these people. I chose to tattoo my right calf because cooperation in both scholarly growth and emotional growth is the foundation for my recovery.”
Bryan was inducted into Psi Chi at SNHU in the Spring 2018 semester, and he plans to run for president of the Chapter in the fall. As he explains, “Psi Chi means a great deal to me. Psi Chi means that I am able to tangibly show that my education is my paramount priority. Psi Chi means that I have finished six consecutive semesters in the top of my class. Furthermore, Psi Chi means that I am able to learn from mentors around the world, and grow as a professional.”
Bryan joined Psi Chi because of one main reason—opportunity. He currently has only two semesters left before he will earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a concentration in mental health, and a minor in public health and wellness. He also currently serves as the publicity chair for SNHU’s Psychology Student Association (PSA; https://www.facebook.com/pg/PsychologyStudentAssociation/about/). He says, “This experience at SNHU, plus my associate’s degree in addiction counseling, has helped me build a well-rounded foundation that I plan to expand upon. After graduating, I would love to travel and discover new experiences outside of the United States. Psi Chi is a name that will be recognized for individual academic achievement and professional dedication worldwide.”
Help Helped Bryan . . .
. . . And now, Bryan is passionate about the pursuit of helping others. One of his two work-study jobs is as a student research assistant for a national study focused primarily on adolescent education. There, he has conducted many research surveys throughout his work experience at various recovery community settings. “Any research that can ultimately help us, as helping professionals, to improve the quality of life is where my passions are.”
His other work-study job on campus is working for SNHU’s Wellness Center on the peer health education team. About this job, he explains, “We call ourselves ‘Petey’s PEEPS’ because SNHU’s mascot is Petey Penman and PEEPS is an acronym standing for ‘Programs for Empowering and Encouraging Penmen Success.’ I say all this because the PEEPS launched a very similar campaign to Psi Chi’s #Help_HelpedMe Initiative, during both the fall and spring semesters of the 2017–18 academic year.”
The PEEPS’ campaign was titled “SNHU: How R U?” This simple question, Bryan explains, can help intervene anyone’s troubles. “Everyone has the potential to lift another person up and the responsibility to care about each other. Actions and beliefs such as these are what builds a true sense of community. This is what I love to suggest to everyone who asks me the question, ‘How can I help this person?’ Ask them how they are! Listen to what they say, and it could potentially save a life.”
To anyone actively seeking help for a Substance Use Disorder, Bryan would like to say this: “As impossible as it feels; it’s possible. As easy as it would be to wait until tomorrow; you have today. And if you don’t think anybody out there thinks you’re worth the help; you’re so, so wrong. I know you are worth helping! Take some action, and start living your recovery today!”
Levitz, J. (2017, November 27). Amid a dearth of workers, New Hampshire taps recovering addicts for jobs. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from https://www.wsj.com/articles/amid-a-dearth-of-workers-new-hampshire-taps-recovering-addicts-for-jobs-1511778600
PBS News Hour. (2016, January 5). On the campaign trail in NH, heartbreak over heroin addiction [Audio transcript]. WTCI. Retrieved from https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/on-the-campaign-trail-in-nh-heartbreak-over-heroin-addiction
Wickham, S. K. (2015, September 12). There is HOPE for NH addicts in recovery. New Hampshire Union Leader. Retrieved from http://www.unionleader.com/There-is-HOPE-for-NH-addicts-in-recovery
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