National Recovery Month is an observance held each September to educate all Americans that substance use treatment and mental health services can enable those with mental and substance use disorders...
National Recovery Month is an observance held each September to educate all Americans that substance use treatment and mental health services can enable those with mental and substance use disorders to live healthy and rewarding lives. Now in its 31st year, Recovery Month celebrates the gains made by those living in recovery.
Community Bridges (CBI, Inc.) is hosting Celebrate the Art of Recovery (CARE) virtually on Thursday, September 24 at 6:00 p.m. The event will stream on Facebook Live and our YouTube channel.
We are pleased to announce AZ Family Channel 3 News Anchor, Brandon Lee is our keynote speaker, sharing his personal experience with addiction and his path to recovery. Brandon will lead three timely and informative panel discussions with leading experts in the field of addiction recovery, mental health and treatment.
As each year passes since the beginning of recovery month, the public is realizing there are tremendous resources for getting help, many of which are right here in Arizona. Over 23 million Americans are now in recovery, but still many more struggle finding long term sobriety.
COVID-19 not only has impacted thousands and thousands of lives globally, the many unknowns have led to an increase in relapses, homelessness and suicide.
The mission of Celebrate the Art of Recovery Expo has always been to inspire success on the road to recovery. Please join us. For more details visit celebratetheartofrecovery.org
How was your admission to being in recovery received? Was your career affected?
Coming clean about my past was not easy. There is a stigma that exists around mental health and its that stigma that we as a sobriety community are trying to get rid of. If a stigma exists, then people won’t feel safe coming forward and sharing their deepest and darkest secrets. It’s those secrets that will kill us. Yes, my career has been affected. I was given a verbal offer to join a major network, but after they learned that I was writing a book about addiction and recovery, they decided to go another way. On the flip side, Arizona’s Family at CBS5 and 3TV have fully embraced me for all of my warts and scars. So, there are some companies who invest in people like me. We need more of this.
Why do you think there continues to be stigmas associated with addiction and mental health issues?
People with mental health issues can really do a lot of harm to others if they’re not seeking help. That behavior can sometimes be violent or erratic. No one wants to be around an abusive person so its easier to push them away. Instead, we need to offer a helping hand to those who are sick.
Getting sober is never easy, tell us a bit about hitting bottom.
As detailed in my memoir, Mascara Boy, I talk in detail about my rock bottom. Briefly, I will just say that I ended up in the ER twice in 72 hours from two near death overdoses. I was in a coma for about a week with brain injuries. I had bleeding in my brain. I didn’t call my family. I didn’t tell anyone. I’m grateful that a nurse showed me so much grace. When I awoke from the coma, she offered to take me to her church and go to an AA meeting. I’ve been sober ever since 2.2.2010.
What are your hopes surrounding addiction recovery?
I want everyone who suffers some sort of mental health issues to be able to have access to treatment or therapy. The most common theme I hear from people is that they cannot afford treatment. We should have a system in our country that provides treatment to those who cannot afford it. We have to invest in these people because you can recover and contribute greatly to society. Its worth the investment. Most addicts are extremely bright, successful people who are simply battling demons.
You have overcome so many traumatic events in your life; many of them occurring during your childhood. Any words of wisdom for young people struggling with self-esteem, acceptance and hope?
I want everyone to know this: In my opinion, you are not born an addict. We become addicts because of traumas in our lives. For me, being repeatedly sexually abused as a child by my piano teacher and youth soccer coach, that trauma went untreated and by the age of 15, I became addicted to sex and drugs. At age 15! At that age I just knew I was sad. I felt a sense of shame because I am gay and back in the 90’s it wasn’t safe or socially accepted to be gay. So that was just another trauma in my life. I numbed myself because anything out of reality — felt good. The way to battle addiction and win — we must be willing to face the traumas of our past. We can only to do that with professional help. We have to provide these resources to every addict in this country.
Mascara Boy is available at amazon.com