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article imageChallenges for Jimmy Rave create opportunities for James Guffey Special

By Layne Weiss     Apr 9, 2013 in Lifestyle
Atlanta - This past weekend, I went to New York City to watch my friends wrestle. It had been a while since I had been on the road so some of the faces were a bit unfamiliar. One in particular was a guy named James Guffey, known to his fans as "Jimmy Rave."
Being friends with wrestlers for years, I had heard the name, but I never knew Jimmy. Over the weekend, however, he told me he ran away from home due to having an alcoholic mother. He was only 15. She ultimately lost her battle with alcohol at 34. James was already on one of the scariest, most painful journeys I had ever heard about. It almost didn't sound real. He turned to a life of drugs and alcohol to ease the pain of a really terrible childhood, but found another drug--this one, however, wasn't in pill or powder or alcoholic form, this drug was in the form of putting on a pair of tights and boots and getting into a wrestling ring.
James, 30, has been wrestling for half his life for small time promotions in his hometown of Atlanta, GA to bigger promotions like Ring of Honor and TNA.
While fans have been familiar with the name Jimmy Rave for years, they may not realize that not only has he abused drugs for years, and not only has he fought back, but he's helped people struggling with mental health issues and addiction and through that, he's helped himself. Guffey is now a mental health and substance abuse certified peer specialist. It is always inspiring to hear of anyone beating addiction, but he was so proud and animated in telling his story. It sounds as if there are ever times he's ever tempted to go back, he just has to remind himself of how far he's come, and there was something truly incredible about the way his face lit up as he was telling me about the work he's done.
Struggling with addiction for years, in 2011, Guffey began his work at the Peer Support, Wellness, and Respite Center in Bartow County, a chapter of the Georgia Mental Health Center.
Guffey was recently promoted to Director of Community Recovery Support.
Since its founding in 2011, Bartow's County Peer Support, Wellness and Respite Center has helped people work through personal challenges while planning for their futures.
The group was designed to help "modernize" the mental health system. "We all have a mental health diagnosis or are dually diagnosed with both a mental diagnosis and a substance diagnosis Guffey said when the center first opened.
Through the program, "people learn to articulate and develop their story, so they can go into the community and tell their story," Guffey explained. It gives people a sense of confidence and empowerment to know they can succeed.
The incredible thing about the center is it provides an alternative to state run psychiatric hospitals in Georgia. A federal lawsuit was filed alleging the state was segregating the mentally ill and those with developmental disabilities in state's psychiatric hospitals, which violated The Americans With Disabilities Act. A settlement reached between Georgia state officials and mental health workers now requires mentally ill Georgian residents to receive treatment in community settings. Both state officials and mental health advocates say the Bartow's Center is one of the major successes to come out of the deal.
In addition to his work at the Bartow's Center, Guffey is also a CARES, Certified Addiction Recovery Empowerment Specialist, and he is also on the steering committee for BEHR (Behavioral Emotional Health Resources For Bartow Co.), a local group that has "inflicted a lot of recovery and change in the community."
He is also a member of the steering committee for the Georgia Recovery Initiative, a "group focused on making Georgia a recovery oriented system of care."
As Guffey shared his story with me, he spoke of all the various places he's traveled to for wrestling including India, Japan, the UK, Germany, and many, many more amazing places. It all seems so surreal to think of all the rewarding work he gets to do at home in Georgia. Through helping people with mental health and substance abuse issues, he has the opportunity to help himself, for he is still in recovery.
He was recently nominated for a Voice Award, which honors and recognizes peer leaders and certified peer specialists in the mental health and substance abuse profession for their strength, devotion, and hard work in helping people beat their problems and addictions and build their futures. A very humble Guffey is extremely honored just to have been nominated. We've talked about the whole whirlwind about how he's gotten here. It's been a wild ride, but it's all very, very worth it. He's changed many people's lives in a beautiful way, and this is only the beginning.
More about Mental health, Substance abuse, voice award, pro wrestling
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