Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Are You M.A.D.?

I went to a company conference a couple of weeks ago. I worked for a company called Alternative Opportunities, Inc. and we had just merged with another company called Preferred Family  Healthcare. Together, we cover 5 states and have almost 4,000 employees. The conference was so that people from both companies could have an opportunity to see what the other one did and network so that we could join forces and support each other better.

We also had plenary and break out sessions. The last plenary we had was by far the best, in my opinion. The guy was amazing; his father was a pastor and he was a former college football coach. To say that his session was motivational would be an understatement. When I walked out of his session I was ready to take on the world. The reason was because of a simple question he asked us, "Are you mad?"

I was at first unsure how to answer that question. I thought about it, and I want you to do the same thing. Ask yourself right now, am I mad? When I thought about it at first, I answered no. I am not mad at all. Then I thought about it a little more, and I did sense the anger. I could remember the way I felt several hours before his plenary after reading an article on Facebook about substance abuse.

The article itself didn't make me mad. The article was about the heroin epidemic our country is currently in. The article discussed the number of people in a small Missouri rural county that had overdosed in a one week period. The article was insightful, educational and well written. It was the comments that followed the article that got to me. They sickened and enraged me. Here are my 5 least favorite:

  1. Who cares? Just another dead junkie.
  2. We should give heroin away for free. Once all these junkies killed themselves of America would be a better place. 
  3. Have you heard of that flakka? It is making people act crazy. Junkies should get a free Go Pro camera with each dose so that we can watch them overdose for our entertainment. 
  4. This is Darwin Theory at its finest. Eventually all of these losers will remove their DNA from the gene pool. 
  5. I hate people like this, living off other people and hurting everyone that cares about them. Junkies only care about themselves. Their families are better off without them. 
So as I thought about it, yeah I was mad. As I sat there and simmered he asked another question, "What are you doing about it?" If something makes you mad, what are you doing to change it? Are you just sitting at home, reading a paper or watching the news, being an armchair quarterback or are you doing something about it.

Then he pulled out the hammer. He asked us to put on the bracelets that were at each of our tables. He told us to look at our bracelets and asked if we noticed anything. I did; the mad was not written mad, it was written R U M.A.D. 

"Every day I wake up and ask myself am I mad. I hope that you would do the same thing. I challenge you to do it. I want to start a movement, with this simple question, "Are you M.A.D.? Are you Making A Difference?"


Just like that, my mind was blown. He was not talking about being angry, instead he was talking about doing something about it. I was mad about a lot of situations, especially when it comes to dealing with substance abuse, mental health issues, stigma and recovery. I am educating schools and communities. I am raising public awareness. I am making a difference, even though it never feels like I am doing enough. 

So today, and for the rest of your life I challenge you to ask yourself this question every day, "Am I M.A.D.?" Are you making a difference? If you are living your life to be better and help those around you become better you are doing something right. If you are not living your life that way, you are doing something wrong. 

People, I implore you to make a difference in someone's life!! If something angers you, use that anger as fuel to give you the passion and energy needed to make that situation different. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there and advocate for someone. Stick up for the disadvantaged, stand up to the bully when he attacks others. Don't talk about change, be the change! 


After all, if you don't do it who will? 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Sky is the Limit - My Story as related to Heroes in Recovery

My story was recently put on the Heroes in Recovery website. I would ask that you visit their website ( and check out everything that they are doing to break stigma and share the hope that there is a Better Life in Recovery. Here is the link to my story on their website:

Here is what they printed:

Hi, my name is David and I am a person in long-term recovery. What that means for me is that I have not used drugs or alcohol since January 31, 2009 and because of that I have been able to accomplish things I never would have dreamed possible. I am a husband, father, sponsor, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, hope dealer and director of the nonprofit Better Life in Recovery (BLiR).
I was abused physically and sexually as a child. I used alcohol and other drugs to escape my past and deal with anger, depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder I was diagnosed with. I was introduced to methamphetamine my senior year, and partying ended up being more important than school so I dropped out of school.
After over 20 years of substance use, attempting suicide, dying more times than I can count on one hand and being to jail more times than I can count on my fingers and toes I thought nothing would ever change. Boy was I wrong.
I asked God for something different, and He answered that prayer. I have not used since I decided to focus on recovery instead of substance abuse. My focus shifted. I paid attention to my successes instead of my failures. I applied the five pillars of recovery: Higher Power, meetings, sponsor, accountability partners and the 12 steps. Then I added the missing piece, service to my community, and it has made all the difference.
Don’t get me wrong, my life has had ups and downs. At times, life kicks me in the butt and my world shakes. The difference is how I cope with that today. I work through my problems and conquer them instead of letting them beat me. Doing this has made me stronger and wiser! I have gone from dealing dope to dealing hope!
Currently, I am a counselor for the Greene County, MO treatment courts through Preferred Family Healthcare. I went from high school drop out to having four college degrees. I married an amazing woman and we have an amazing family. I sit on multiple boards and planning committees that are focused on making the world a better place.
My passion is BLiR. Our mission is transforming lives with recovery. We deal hope and reduce stigma people who struggle with substance use and mental health issues face through community service, education and awareness events that celebrate people in long-term recovery. In 2012 we did one event, in 2013 we did three events, in 2014 we did eight and we are aiming for over 50 events in 2015 with weekly fellowship events.
Today, I know the sky is the limit for people in long-term recovery. My goal is to educate people on the wonders of long-term recovery, give people who are still struggling hope they can achieve long-term recovery and people in recovery the courage to come forward and be proud of who they have become while rejoining and making their communities better!