Addiction comes in so many forms, and I think mental health and its connection to substance use disorders are not talked about enough. So, I’m talking about it, and this is my story.
At just two days old, I was adopted into the best family anyone could ever imagine. Growing up in a small town in Maryland with my mom, dad, brother and our dog Elvis, I was lucky to have had friends, a nice home, great education and support from my loving family. But intertwined with that happy childhood, there was also insecurity, heartache, pain and trauma.
I struggled with depression and anxiety throughout high school, and I now know these factors came to exacerbate my addiction later on in life. I started drinking excessively in my sophomore year of college. I was going out more, drinking more – losing parts of myself – until I was finally drinking alone.
Spending over two years in active alcohol addiction took a lot from me, mostly internally. It turned me into an unrecognizable shell of a human being. I don’t think I can fully explain what I went through and how it still affects me to this day. But after college graduation, in the throes of COVID-19, something clicked inside me – and I chose to save my life.
Addiction is a disease, a genetic disorder. It is NOT a choice. It takes control of every aspect of your life and turns your world upside down. That’s why I want to help end the stigma that surrounds addiction, in hopes of helping prevent and treat this horrible disease. I work on my recovery every single day. It is a full-time job. It’s difficult, and it’s not something that anyone is capable of doing alone.
“Addiction is giving up everything for one thing. Recovery is giving up one thing for everything.”
When I got sober, I was 22 years old, and I had just completed rehab when the pandemic first started. That very first week, I got help through online support, the right medication and therapy through Zoom meetings. I will soon receive my LMSW social work license and then start a full-time job in social work. I chose this career to help those who have gone through similar situations as I have throughout my life. I want to be able to help families and the individuals they love – and I cannot wait to start.
I’m also deeply motivated by my dear friend, Jane, who was living her life in recovery until she recently passed away in a tragic accident. She was my “sober peer,” and her positive influence is still a significant driving force that helps sustain my recovery. Jane was dedicated to fitness and encouraged me to run as part of my recovery journey. I want to challenge myself the way she did.
Running as a Partner for Hope on the Partnership’s marathon team, I am more motivated than ever to raise awareness, honor Jane and tell anyone who will listen why this mission is so important to me. This is a cause both Jane and I care about deeply, and I hope raising awareness will help the outcome for someone else. I imagine she is smiling down on me, and I hope I make her proud.
Support Maura and all of our Partners for Hope Team members running the Brooklyn Marathon & Half Marathon!