On Saturday, I was a part of an extraordinary healing and inspirational event…a FRIENDS OF RECOVERY ( )walk/run rally, of which I am a proud member, in support of addiction recovery and treatment, and was in honor of Reid Schwartz, who lost his battle with addiction one year ago. I am honored to be a friend of his mom, Caren and dad Russ, who have shown such great strength in being parents in recovery, and in leading the way in raising awareness, removing stigma, and making changes in addiction treatment and recovery. I also want to mention Kathleen Katt-Bennie, RCADD (Rockland Council on Alcoholism and other Drug Dependence)/Friends of Recovery-Rockland, for her leading role in facilitating this fantastic event, and for being a phenomenal resource to those of us in the recovery community.

This event was held in Rockland County, NY, the county where I grew up, and fell from grace in my own addiction to prescription drugs, and made a comeback to life. It was an event attended by hundreds to support those who are still struggling with addiction, to walk for those who lost their battle with addiction, and to celebrate recovery. It was an event to raise awareness on the disease of addiction, to stop the stigma, and to make changes in addiction treatment and recovery.

As I arrived, it was a bittersweet moment, as I was struck in awe at my own emotional and deep sense of pride and accomplishment these past 3 1/2 years of recovery, and also thinking of loved ones who are unable to find their way to the other side of addiction….RECOVERY. Recovery from addiction is a reality for so many…you have to really want to LIVE and to make significant changes in your life in order to sustain a healthy lifelong recovery, and it takes a lot of hard work….diligence, determination, strength, focus, and discipline. It is a day to day job that I take very seriously…if I don’t put in the hours of work…on myself…emotionally, physically, and spiritually, it doesn’t pay.

We have so much work to do in recovery, and in addiction treatment. Too many people still look at this disease with ignorance and fear…believing that this is a choice…that our moral compass is broken. Medical doctors are not educated on the disease of Addiction, and many in the healthcare community treat people with this disease with a lack of empathy and guided care that people diagnosed with other life threatening diseases are offered. I was told by a clergyman that “Addiction is a sin.” “God punishes those with addiction AND their children, as a parent would punish a child who misbehaves, he told me.” Absolutely ignorant and coming from a place of fear. When people who are diagnosed with cancer go into remission, we celebrate them. When we see people with disabilities overcome their challenges and work hard to use their unique gifts and they shine their bright light to lead the way for themselves and others, we celebrate them. When people diagnosed with Diabetes finally make lifestyle changes to manage their disease by eating healthy and exercising, we celebrate them. Addiction is a progressive brain disease. NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) states, “As a result of scientific research, we know that addiction is a disease that affects both the brain and behavior. We have identified many of the biological and environmental factors and are beginning to search for the genetic variations that contribute to the development and progression of the disease. Scientists use this knowledge to develop effective prevention and treatment approaches that reduce the toll drug abuse takes on individuals, families, and communities.” When a person, like myself, finds solutions to recover, and manage this disease, we celebrate them as well. 

So many people, especially those of our younger generation are dying from the disease of Addiction. We must educate the public, most especially the medical community as some in the medical/healthcare community are responsible for the epidemic of Addiction with the reckless over prescribing of controlled substances.

The overall serious state of this nation’s addiction crisis, in my opinion, is that many in the medical community do not truly understand this progressive brain disease, and the information and findings are changing every day.
It would help to immerse those in the medical community who are not educated on this disease in learning about Addiction and its co-occurring disorders which include pharmacists. This means that the existing healthcare community must catch up on all of the vital information and life saving information, including nutritional counseling and alternative solutions as an alternative pathway to recovery.
Nutritional Education as in “Let thy food be thy medicine” should be introduced early in children’s education as a preventative action, and also introduced in Recovery Community Centers, treatment facilities, and to healthcare professionals so that along with Recovery Coaching and other existing traditional treatment, first responders in the E.R. and healthcare professionals will have the knowledge to appropriately counsel patients on the many paths that are available to recovery. Nutritional counseling offers to teach people how to heal on a cellular level through healthy nutrition and other alternative modalities using whole foods and natural and organic solutions as in the way that I have recovered.
This practice will allow a patient to heal inflammation and dis-ease on a cellular level which will promote sustainability and long term success in recovery. The medical community are our first responders to this crisis, and in my opinion, the over-prescribing, many times, is due to their ignorance and lack of education on Addiction.
I believe that education on Addiction, Recovery, and a Holistic/Wellness Approach to Recovery will promote prevention of this disease, and aid in management and treatment of this disease, that is slow and steady, and that is built on rebuilding our immune system that will promote optimal health and aid in being a pathway to recovery.
I share my story to help raise awareness and to help implement much needed change in addiction recovery, treatment, and management of the disease that nearly took my life. It was an honor and privilege, and surreal, to take part in the run/walk for recovery. I thought about who I was almost 4 years ago…near death from this disease, and I look at myself now and know I am so blessed to have lived through my addiction and have come out on the other side where I can say from experience that recovery from this brain disease IS possible…and I HIGHLY recommend exploring a HOLISTIC recovery based on natural and organic solutions that are sustainable lifelong. It has worked for me in creating HARMONIOUS HEALTH 4 LIFE!
Sharing my experience with hundreds of others who have recovered, or who have a loved one who suffer with this disease, or lost a loved one to this disease, at this rally on Saturday was inspiring and empowering. We share. We listen. We learn. We encourage. We inspire. We heal. We celebrate….one moment at a time.
Wishing you Harmonious Health 4 Life!
Love and blessings,

5k for addiction  IMG_0645  run for recovery 8-27-16

Reid's mom, my dear friend, Caren. #thisonesforreid

Reid’s mom, my dear friend, Caren. #thisonesforreid


  • Walter Johnston
    2 years ago

    I appreciate your article. It was well-written and I plan on sharing it on my Facebook page. I didn’t realize we were presenting the awards together until I saw the photos at the end of the article. Together we can!

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