Second Chances: Stories of hope, addiction and recovery in Alaska

Second Chances: stories of hope, addiction and recovery
Program cover from Recover Alaska’s storytelling event held in September. (Courtesy of Recover Alaska)

Recover Alaska is an organization working towards a solutions-based approach to reduce excessive alcohol use and harms across the state. As part of National Recovery Month in September, Recover Alaska held a storytelling event where people in recovery shared their stories of overcoming addiction.


  • Taylor Stapley: is a lifelong indoor Alaskan. Once broken, now still broken but
    recovering, an eternal optimist, and father to the best kid ever.
  • Chris McNeese: was born in 1959 in Anchorage. She began her recovery
    journey in April of 2000. Her current sobriety date is 5/5/2011. She has been
    married 37 years and has 2 children and 1 1/3 grandchildren. She always
    wants to see what’s around the next bend.
  • Russ Osterhaus: is a lifelong Alaskan who loves going to church and AA
    meetings and riding his 1993 Harley Sportster. He plays guitar and sings
    Southern Gospel music, and he released a CD called Praise My Savior.
  • Governor Bill Walker: stopped by the event to speak and show his support.
  • RJ Johnson: is in a constant state of reinvention. From his former career as a
    bartender, his hobbies of performance and theater, his time as a titleholder in
    the ICOAA and as Mr Bear Alaska, he’s a familiar face for many in
    Anchorage. Since making the choice to get sober, recovery has been the
    biggest reinvention of all. No longer content to be Imperial Crown Prince RJ, Mr
    Bear RJ, or RJ from Myrna’s, he is working to figure out who he is without the
  • Arthur Stevens: is Ahtna and Han Gwitchn Athabascan from Mentasta Lake,
    Alaska. He is from the Tsigunnyguy Alstetnay (Tsi-gunny-guy Alts-set-nay) clan.
    His indigenous name is Cen’ayy (Ken-Eye) which means double-axe. He is a
    local business owner and often performs traditional Ahtna song and dance to
    support his community. He is happily married to an amazing and strong
    Athabascan lady and is blessed with a 7-year-old son, Christian.
  • Sarah Weber: is a proud lifelong Alaskan, and along with her husband of 16
    years has four children. Sarah is a very outspoken character—she is full of
    stories and loves to share them. She is excited to share her experience of hope
    with others and to be a strong example of what recovery looks like. She
    believes in second chances and is living proof that all things are possible for
    those who believe.


  • Wesley Brewington: became familiar with gang activity and incarceration at an
    early age and struggled with substance abuse for 14 years. Wesley graduated
    from a long-term treatment facility in the Mat-Su Valley, successfully completed
    State Probation in 2017, and he’s now employed at CITC Recovery Services
    Division as the Peer Support Supervisor. He just celebrated 5 years in recovery.
    Wesley continues to be involved in the community, pursuing his passion for
    helping others and providing evidence that we can and do recover.


BROADCAST: Tuesday, November 6th, 2018 at 2:00 p.m.

RECORDED: Tuesday, September 20, 2018 at Anchorage Community Theater.


Addressing Alaskans features local lectures and forums recorded at public events taking place in Southcentral Alaska. A variety of local organizations host speakers addressing topics that matter to Alaskans. To let us know about an upcoming community event that you would like to hear on Addressing Alaskans, please Contact Us with details.

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Ammon Swenson is Alaska Public Media’s Audio Media Content Producer. He was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska. He graduated from UAA in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and integrated media. He’s previously worked for KRUA radio, the Anchorage Press, and The Northern Light.

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