As a Physician’s Assistant, I felt an immense amount of shame about needing to go to Mountainside for inpatient treatment almost four years ago. It was very difficult to reconcile my chosen role as a caregiver with my history with addiction. I was not proud of the toll alcohol had taken on my life, and I was not sure returning to work was something I could handle emotionally or mentally.
But with time my confidence grew, and my sobriety stuck. I once again felt capable and confident in my role as a healthcare provider. I was asked to become an Alumni Ambassador for Mountainside and began to work with people in early recovery. By taking on this role, I solidified my own sobriety and began to see a new “helping role” I could take on in addition to practicing medicine. I decided to become a Recovery Coach and develop more tools I could use in my professional and personal life. Through my work as an Alumni Ambassador and a Recovery Coach, I have learned that disclosing my lived experience with addiction and recovery can be a very powerful way of bringing hope to those who are still in active addiction.
Now more than ever before, addiction is something that is seen in every corner of medicine – from pediatrics to geriatrics, to the boardroom and the operating room. The fear, anxiety, and isolation of the last two years has created a fertile environment for addiction to take hold even in those who previously did not struggle with substance abuse. Mental health is a crucial part of overall health and I hope to help others find recovery.