'There is so much shame': Manalapan woman lights the way out of the 'shackles' of drugs
Kim Ciccone started using cocaine and opiates in her mid-20s.
“I was in an extreme domestic violence situation with an ex-boyfriend,” she said. “I was spiritually dying.”
Her parents intervened, connecting her with CFC (Coming Full Circle) Loud N’ Clear Foundation, a nonprofit recovery community with branches in Monmouth and Ocean counties. It was a rocky road — three years of fits and starts.
“You learn a lot of things, being in recovery,” Ciccone said. “Your brain chemistry changes when you’re with someone who is narcissistic or abusive. You realize that, ‘I wasn’t crazy.’”
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On March 23, 2021, the Manalapan resident turned a corner. Now 31, she’s been clean for two years.
“Drugs consumed my whole life; my co-dependency consumed my whole life,” Ciccone said. “I don’t live in any type of shackles anymore. There’s complete freedom. It’s amazing, where I am now.”
Where is she? Running CFC’s women’s empowerment program and working full-time as its marketing and event coordinator. She tells her story to give hope to others who are where she’s been — to let them know they’re not alone.
“She’s doing an amazing job,” said Alyssa Regan, CFC’s executive director. “She has really blossomed.”
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Simple program, complicated people
CFC Loud N' Clear Foundation was founded in 2012 by Lynn Regan as a recovery community for her son Dan Regan — Alyssa Regan’s husband — as he battled drug addiction. With branches in Farmingdale, Matawan and Toms River, they’ve served 20,000 families over the past 11 years.
“We integrate their passions into the recovery program,” Alyssa Regan said. For example: Some community members like to bake, so they recently staged a bake-off.
Regan has her own incredible story. Adopted at age 11 from a drug-infested home, she is a suicide survivor and sexual assault survivor who became a role model for folks who passed through CFC’s doors.
“She is such a pillar of a woman,” Ciccone said. “She really cares deeply about the people here. She is pretty much teaching me everything. I am kind of in her wing.”
Ultimately, those who successfully come through CFC’s program earn certifications so they can pay it forward as peer counselors.
“Diving into the community, giving service back where I could, was a big part of my recovery and acceptance,” Ciccone said.
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She spoke at CFC’s annual fundraising gala last spring, telling her story in public for the first time, and audience members lined up to thank her afterward.
“There is so much shame when you share that you stayed with someone who put their hands on you,” said Ciccone, who worked as a barber. “There’s a lot of shame in doing drugs. Not a lot of people knew I had substance-abuse issues.”
She’s been mentoring a woman who is living in a Shore-area motel, dealing with similar struggles.
“I just try to leave the phone line open to her,” Ciccone said. “I’m not being judgmental. It makes her feel heard. Everybody tells you, ‘Break up with him, stop doing drugs.’ It’s a very simple program for very complicated people.”
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Simple program, complicated people. That drills down to the heart of it. Ciccone knows how messy and hard life can be. It turns out, that knowledge is a gift she can share with others.
“Kim’s able to connect with people on a great level,” Alyssa Regan said. “She is super special.”
For more information on CFC Loud N’ Clear Foundation, visit https://healingus.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jerry Carino is community columnist for the Asbury Park Press, focusing on the Jersey Shore’s interesting people, inspiring stories and pressing issues. Contact him at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: Manalapan woman's experience in drug addiction recovery helps others