The Comeback – Derek Yater’s Story
In the beginning…
My name is Derek Yater and I’m a customer service rep here at Special-T. I am proud to be in recovery from drugs and alcohol. When I was in high school, I followed the rules – I did not drink or use drugs. But, as soon as I left home for college, my story changed. I started drinking and quickly developed a nasty habit for it. I was in college for another six years before I finally decided I couldn’t continue as I was. Working multiple jobs just to keep up with tuition and spend the rest on alcohol, I soon realized drinking, working, and being a student was impossible. Unfortunately, that is when my opiate addiction started. For years after, I stayed in the cycle of abuse until maintaining my addiction began to cost much more than just money.
In 2012, I was introduced to No Longer Bound – a local rehabilitation program. After I completed the program and served on staff, I was introduced to Brandon Rayburn, the president of Special-T and a fellow No Longer Bound alumnus. Brandon asked if I would be interested in coming to work at a manufacturing company. Having my first child on the way, I thought it might be a good time for a change. Brandon told me about the company and “ReWork”: Special-T’s community of people REcovering in the WORKplace. This sounded beneficial for me, so I went to work for Special-T.
After working in Special-T’s warehouse, I was quickly promoted to the Warranty Manager position! And in October of 2015, my first son was born. To say that I was more than excited is an understatement. The following year, my wife and I got married and I thought I could not be happier. I loved my life and the new family I had gained. From the outside looking in, my life looked perfect. But, I was hiding a dark secret.
I had fallen back into drinking which eventually led back into full-blown opiate addiction. Because of ReWork’s honesty-first policy, I eventually realized I had to tell the truth about my addiction. So, I decided to call my supervisor and let him know that I was not sober, that I wasn’t fit to work, and that I was choosing to resign from Special-T. Next, I had to tell my wife – knowing that I would be breaking her heart while we had another son on the way. At this point, I finally realized I had reached my “bottom.” I wanted to be there for my wife and sons; I wanted to be the man they needed me to be. Therefore, I chose to go back into a long-term treatment facility with no job, a young son with another on the way, and a heartbroken wife who meant the world to me. But I realized that my sons deserved a sober father, my wife deserved a sober husband, and I was determined to be that for them.
In October of 2018 after completing treatment, my second son was born… and I was sober! It was an indescribable feeling being sober for my son’s birth! I felt like I had officially become the man my family deserved which propelled me even further into my recovery. I was able to work from home at that time. Being more present with my wife and sons during that period was one of the happiest times in my life. One day I received an unexpected phone call from Brandon Rayburn. I had stayed connected with a few people at Special-T, but this call felt different. To my surprise, Brandon asked if we could talk about me coming back to Special-T. I had zero reservations; I knew I wanted to join the team again and more specifically be a part of ReWork once again. Working at Special-T is not just about selling tables; it is about sharing our message of recovery to anyone else that is struggling with addiction.
I am a better man today because of Special-T. I can be a good husband to my wife, be a present father to my boys, and financially support my family while still growing in my own recovery. I now live a life I never dreamed was possible because of my second chance from Special-T.
A Message from Special-T’s President
“What a privilege it is to be able to work with Derek! Special-T prides itself on being a second-chance focused workplace. Derek is a perfect embodiment of the mission of Special-T. He has consistently proven himself to be an invaluable asset to his customers, always going above and beyond, and constantly providing the best solutions for them. He is one of the best examples for Special-T’s Recovery Workplace Community and truly highlights our internal mission. Thank you, Derek, for sharing your story!”
– Brandon Rayburn