Same Painting, Different Colors

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind for me. Not only have I been able to share my experiences and insight on HLN when Justin Bieber made headlines a few weeks ago, but I have also been able to highlight the importance of treatment and a sustained recovery in light of the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman on a national level. Even though I am only 27, my personal experience with addiction and recovery has given me this platform, and because of that, it’s forced me to grow up fast. Dr. Drew once told me, “some people have old souls, but you have lived one.” To me, that couldn’t be a more perfect quote for where I am at today.

Now, with three years of sobriety under my belt, I look at addiction and the possibility for recovery in a completely different way. I am focused on building my stance on how to effectively raise awareness, regardless of if an opportunity presents itself or not. I am more than happy to share my own personal trials and tribulations, even when it comes to celebrities in the media who I can relate to on some level or another. There is no doubt that I have not been subject to the same fame as Justin Bieber of Philip Seymour Hoffman, but I can draw parallels between their lives and mine – especially during my time of abuse.

For example, Justin Bieber is roughly the same age I was when I really got into my addiction. I had money, media attention, nice cars, girls – you name it. Similar to him, I had a sense that I could do no wrong, and that the consequences of my actions would just slip easily under the rug.

I can also relate to Philip Seymour Hoffman, especially in terms of how he was found alone in his apartment when he lost his battle with addiction. I know that dark feeling of using to escape reality, even when no one is around.

A major part of my efforts to raise awareness about addiction includes sharing my own personal truths. There are many people who haven’t experienced what I have (i.e. public humiliation, demoralization, etc.), and if I can help educate others by talking about my past, then that is something I will do. I will also remain dedicated to not just speaking out when someone famous finds him or herself connected to addiction, but also speaking out and being an advocate for those every day people who need help, too. It is important to understand that when it comes the disease of addiction, it is all the same painting, just different colors.

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