What My Journey Taught Me
If you saw me kicking a soccer ball with my daughter or noticed me at a business lunch, you might assume my life has been easy. You might even imagine my privilege has made me oblivious to the pain of others. But you would be wrong.
Behind my professional demeanor, I was once just a boy growing up with anxiety, fear, insecurity and emotional pain that I did not have the words to express or the tools to cope with. What I did have was access to alcohol. A substance that became my solution, my escape, my entire world until my early twenties. That is when my family realized the severity of the issues and stepped in.
It was through their grace and support that I began to recognize drinking was not an answer — it was a disease.
My loved ones gave me a choice. Go to treatment for your alcohol use disorder or come to terms with the reality that you are likely to face dire consequences. I chose treatment. My time at Caron not only saved me, but it also transformed my vision of how I wanted to live.
My journey empowered me to redefine my approach to wellness and to help other families live their best lives. I also learned I needed to take care of myself emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually.
Running became an important outlet for me.
It’s not only good for my body but it also supports me and provides time alone and allows me time to meditate. I also experience peace from the physical and psychological feeling of exerting myself.
I found that once I developed coping skills and achieved a stable recovery, my career took off. In fact, it led me back to where it all began. After receiving my master’s in social work, I became a family therapist at Caron. Concurrent with this role, I decided to pursue an MBA, because I thought it was just as important to balance my business knowledge with my clinical experience. Over time, I evolved in my career at Caron to eventually lead the organization, a position I started last year.
Today, I am thrilled about how far Caron has come. The COVID-19 pandemic was devastating, but we emerged stronger than ever, prepared to support individuals and families with complex addiction and medical problems, emerging mental health challenges and trauma-related issues through research and proven treatment outcomes. We recently opened a unique center for medical research on our Pennsylvania campus and are gearing up to open The Keele Center, a major medical center in South Florida next year.
As a nonprofit, we have committed to not only treating the patient, but also prioritizing the family because addiction is a family disease. Providing family members with education, therapy and support disrupts intergenerational trauma and leads to significant transformation. We are seeing an amazing trajectory of healthy families supporting other families in crisis — like advocates for AIDS, cancer, and other chronic diseases. My journey now is about prioritizing the eradication of stigma and helping to dismantle the polarization of the recovery world in favor of uniting for a better quality of life. I am loudly declaring every day that people don’t have to die because value-based addiction treatment works.
But at the end of the day, I never lose sight of the importance of remaining grounded in my own recovery.
I am a grateful person, father, husband and colleague. I appreciate the laughter of the young adults in the dining hall, seeing families connect in a meaningful way and listening to an individual sharing the amazing experiences and relationships in their life because they chose to ask for help.