I started using alcohol at age 15 and it felt like the perfect solution to my childhood trauma and dysfunctional home life. My values changed almost immediately, and I went from having LDS background to the other end of the spectrum. I got a DUI when I was 16 and many underage alcohol misdemeanors. I was kicked out of high school and was ashamed that I had a GED and not a high school diploma. I was pregnant at age 18 and was able to stop drinking but started again shortly after my daughter was born. I didn’t have any more legal consequences after that first DUI, mostly because of luck. My biggest consequence from drinking was that it stunted my growth as a human being.
My recovery from alcohol has really been about recovering from the reasons why I drank, which I can address now that I am not drinking. My threshold for being unhappy was fairly low, in comparison to others’ stories. This is not to undermine or deny what I went through. I had withdrawal symptoms from alcohol, shitty relationships, and no sense of self. When people in AA say, “If I drink, I will die,” I don’t entirely relate. If I drink, I may die eventually and my disease will continue to progress, but more likely, I will be miserable in my existence. I won’t achieve my purpose, be connected to a higher power, or have fulfilling relationships. I have learned that my addiction to alcohol is a symptom of trauma, and drinking was merely a coping skill. Alcohol worked very well to numb my pain and it helped me disassociate. I didn’t even know I was disassociating until I started my recovery journey. It becomes more and more apparent that I didn’t know how to cope with my feelings or know how to be comfortable in my skin.
My personal work and successes have been on self-forgiveness and love, forgiving others, learning healthy boundaries, and being the best mother possible. I am in recovery from alcohol and co-dependency. I am learning how to feel my feelings, cope with life, and stand up for myself and my worth. I live in Idaho, and I am a single mom to 3 amazing, beautiful daughters. I am so proud of myself for breaking the intergenerational patterns in my family.
My curiosity about sobriety started about 3 years ago. I started listening to podcasts in the beginning of my recovery and found The SHAIR Podcast with Omar Pinto. I loved his voice and his energy. I have found his interviews to have a profound impact on my ability to see my addiction as an opportunity and not a dirty secret. I eventually became a member of his FB group and then joined the SRC where I have connected with so many amazing people in recovery. I feel the SRC group has kept me sober.
I can access meetings via Zoom which has been crucial to me since I am at home with my kids and haven’t found an AA group in my community where I feel connected. The connection with others in the group has saved me from loneliness and isolation. I have found a sponsor in one of these groups who was willing to complete the 12 steps with me which has been transformational! I am almost 5 months in my recovery from alcohol and 95% of the time, I don’t even think about drinking. I am so grateful for the SRC, the SHAIR podcast, my sponsor, the step work, and online recovery.
What is the solution to the addiction crisis?
Currently, less than 10 percent of people will ever seek medical help of any kind for their addiction. Hundreds of people lose their lives daily, leaving behind family members, friends, loved ones, children, and community members. Yet, when the recovery community organizes, reform is possible.
There is a powerful movement happening in the United States that is revolutionizing the way we fight the addiction crisis. Ryan Hampton is here to talk about how we can all Mobilize Recovery!
Over four years into recovery from a decade-long opioid addiction, Ryan Hampton has been rocketed to the center of America’s rising addiction recovery advocacy movement. A former White House staffer, he has worked with multiple non-profits and national recovery advocacy campaigns. He is now a prominent, leading face and voice of addiction recovery and is changing the national conversation about addiction.
With content that reaches over 1 million people a week, Ryan is breaking down cultural barriers that have kept people suffering in silence and is inspiring a new generation of people recovering out loud through his Voices Project. He’s also advocating for solutions and holding public policy makers accountable.
He was part of the core team that released the first-ever U.S. Surgeon General’s report on addiction in 2016 and was singled out by Forbes as a top social entrepreneur in the recovery movement. Ryan connects a vast network of people who are passionate about ending the drug epidemic in America. He has been featured by—and is a contributor to—media outlets such as USA Today, MSNBC, Fox and Friends, the New York Times, NPR, HLN, Vice, Forbes, Slate, HuffPost, The Hill, the Wall Street Journal, and others.
A former aide to President Bill Clinton, Ryan has received praise from Democrats and Republicans alike for addressing addiction as a trans-political issue—crossing the political spectrum to build an inclusive coalition focused on solutions. He worked closely with the Trump White House, Senate Democrats, Republicans and U.S. House leadership in crafting portions of the historic H.R. 6, SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, signed into law by the President in October 2018. Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich has lauded that “Ryan’s story gives government leaders on both sides of the aisle smart commonsense solutions to consider.”
On October 22, 2018, Ryan announced Recovery Voices Vote, an initiative he’s leading to register and engage new recovery oriented voters in all 50 states. In 2016, he created the web series Addiction Across America, documenting his 30-day, 28 state, 8,000-mile cross-country trip visiting areas hit hardest by the addiction crisis.
His first book, “American Fix — Inside the Opioid Addiction Crisis and How to End It” published by St. Martin’s Press, was released in August 2018.
Addiction is a crisis of epidemic proportions and shows no sign of slowing down. It affects people of every race, class, social group, religion, and gender. It does not discriminate. Currently, 23 million Americans are in sustained recovery from substance use disorder. Another 22 million are suffering from this highly preventable, treatable illness. One in every three households includes a person with substance use disorder; beyond the home, the prevalence of addiction affects almost everyone. From healthcare systems overloaded with people desperate for help, to criminal justice courts crammed with people who need treatment instead of jail time, our society is burdened by the stigma of addiction.
Without civic engagement, organization, and recovery advocacy, millions of people will never access the life-saving support they need. Currently, less than 10 percent of people will ever seek medical help of any kind for their addiction. Hundreds of people lose their lives daily, leaving behind family members, friends, loved ones, children, and community members. Yet, when the recovery community organizes, reform is possible. Activists have successfully accessed funding for recovery supports, effective and ethical standards for treatment, and changes to employment processes. When recovery speaks, people listen. Yet, finding solutions is delayed by lack of access to other community groups and difficulty connecting with like-minded people. We follow in the footsteps of social justice movements such as the Civil Rights movement, ACT UP, and the fight for LGBTQ rights. What we’ve learned is that policy change is crucial to keeping the hard-won gains of grassroots activists who took to the front lines in the fight for equality. With more people engaged, we make more progress. As a mobilized, civically engaged constituency of consequence, we can turn the tide of the epidemic and create sustainable change at every level that doesn’t end with a single march or fundraiser.
Our Mobilize Recovery project is primarily funded by the Facebook Community Leadership Program and will build capacity for organized civic advocacy around the country. We will identify, train, connect, and work with recovery advocates in all 50 states. Each of these selected community organizers will have lived experience with substance use disorders. By sharing resources, coordinating our agenda, and taking action as a powerful, confident constituency, we will create change that affects millions of people in a positive way.
Ryan Hampton’s Links
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