Wicomico Goes Purple: Crystal Toomer guides addicts to recovery

Crystal Toomer spent much of her life at the corner of Church and Naylor, picking her poison and growing up years before her time.

At age 13, she was smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol. By 15, she was snorting cocaine. When she turned 21, she lost both parents in the span of six months and everything “spiraled out of control.”

Crystal Toomer. (Tony Weeg Photo.)

“As the years went on, my addiction grew. I’ve been incarcerated, homeless… . I’ve lost my children,” she said. “I never pictured a life clean and sober, but I knew I had to turn my life around — for my husband, my family.”

Now 38, Toomer works for the Worcester County Community Outreach Addictions Team (COAT), an organization that is called to Peninsula Regional Medical Center when there is a drug overdose or a positive drug test.

“Luckily, God put people in my path who could help me recover,” she said. “Now, I can return the favor and help others find the support they need.”

As a peer counselor for COAT, Toomer tries to make those dealing with substance abuse realize that help is available — that no problem is too big to overcome.

“I’ve been where these people have been and every day I am reminded of the fight, the struggle and the stigma that goes along with addiction,” she said. “Sometimes you don’t have to be ready; you just have to love other people more than you love yourself.”

Toomer has been clean now for six years, and said her family motivates her to remain that way.

“My husband continues to tell me that I can do it, and he pushes me every day,” she said.

In May, Toomer graduated with a degree in chemical dependency counseling, and she couldn’t be more proud of how far she has come. The journey has been hard, but worth it.

“I never pictured a life clean and sober, but here I am,” she said. “In treatment, you learn things about yourself that you don’t see when you’re stuck in your addiction. You have to deal with your mental health to overcome it.”

Need help? If you or someone you love is dealing with addiction, the Wicomico County Health Department can help. Call 410-749-1244 to speak with a counselor or learn about support groups.

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