"The disease of addiction can be an obstacle or an opportunity. It does not have to be a life sentence.” - Justin

"My passion started out as working at ground level, meeting people where they are in their mess, and loving them into a greater direction. Although that certainly still is a passion of mine, recently I have been trying to focus time on helping those already in recovery to develop a quality of life on a larger scale that suggests it would be utterly ridiculous to ever touch another drink or a drug again. 

The real me is just another person in recovery, trying to find my way. I still have struggles daily, with mental health. My insecurities can, at times, feel like they’re eating me alive. I have to constantly surround myself with accountability and be willing to reach out for help and take it. I just want others to know it’s okay to not be okay. We all need a little help at times. We just have to be willing to admit that and reach out. 

My addiction does not define me, but it does give me a very great reason to constantly work on myself to get better.

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"Every life matters and every addict can change and recover." -Melissa

My passion is to lead other addicts to a life of recovery. My fulfillment is to lead by example for other addicts who want to change their lives for the better.

The real me is a loving mother of three, a grandmother, wife, and a Christian woman who was saved by God's grace and now lives to serve Him.

I want others to understand that recovery is hard work but so worth it. My blessings have been many since getting clean and sober three years ago. Everything I lost in active addiction has been restored. 

I am more then addiction. 

I am someone's mother, daughter, wife, and friend. Every life matters and every addict can change and recover.

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"My passion is to shine a light to those that are surrounded by darkness." - Misty

"My passion is to shine a light to those that are surrounded by darkness. 

Something very magical happens when someone is in the depths of dispair and then all of the sudden you see a twinkle of hope light in their eyes. That’s what this is about, seeing people come back to life and transform into the most beautiful version of themselves. It’s a phenomenal sight to see and I am blessed to be a part of it. 

What do I want others to know about addiction: I can’t make someone understand what I can’t understand myself. What I do know is that there is no definite rhyme or reason to it and it does not discriminate. Turning your head will not “fix” the problem nor will ignoring it. People close their minds to what they don’t understand but real chance comes when we open our hearts and try to understand.

When I look back at my life, I see a lot of heartache, pain, destruction, broken pieces and horrible truths. When I look in the mirror I see strength, beauty, determination, and a grace that saved my life. ..

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Sparking Compassion: Community Picnic & Launch Party Recap & Reflections

On Friday, June 14, at the beautiful Valley Park in Hurricane, WV, More Than Addiction held its first ever event—our free Community Picnic and Launch Party. Putnam County Parks & Recreation was generous enough to donate their beautiful shelter—kitchen and all—to our organization. Putnam County Parks & Rec is a vocal supporter of recovery and the renewal of lives. Their generous support made possible an idea, hope, and dream of bringing members of the community, recovery centers and groups, education resources, people in recovery, family members, and advocates together in one space united by a single cause: proving we are all more than addiction.

Here’s how this event took shape…

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“No matter how dark the circumstances, there’s always collateral beauty.” - Jake

“I was taught work ethic at a very young age.”

Jake tells me he grew up in a loving home with two very successful parents, and he learned from their example that if he did his best and set his mind to any task, he would see results.

I learn through my conversation with Jake about his “all in” sensibility, his full commitment to whatever he takes on, this habit of mind that made him so successful yet also put him on a dangerous path of addiction and struggle.

But addiction and its subsequent struggle wasn’t one Jake couldn’t overcome with his same determined mindset.


Jake was a precocious student, athlete, and musician. He was naturally curious and intelligent. As a teen, Jake was a football player, musician, and an involved member of jazz band and show choir. By all accounts, a textbook high-flyer who was going places. Smart, charming, ambitious, and a world of promise before him.

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Come see MTA at our Community Picnic & Launch Party on June, 14 from 5-8!

You see, June 14 is a special day to us. 

My brother Bradley would have turned 26 this day. We honor him with our advocacy work in changing the narrative of addiction, sparking compassion in our community, and connecting folks to addiction and recovery resources and support. 

If you loved Bradley too, we hope you come celebrate with us how he was so much more than addiction. 

If you or someone you love struggles with addiction, we hope you tell your story and that you feel seen and heard. 

If you see the need for a more compassionate, better educated community in tackling the complexities of addiction and its many consequences, we hope that you'll join us for an evening of food and friendship. 

If you simply need a break, a place to hang out for a few hours, and a good meal, we hope you come connect with us, too. 

We have LOTS of help from our friends and community members in speaking and giveaways, including Cece Brown, Holly Finney, Maranatha Church, Belly Scrubs, Lowes of Barboursville, Walmart of Hurricane, Mountain Pie, NOVA Salon & Spa, the Scissor Sisters, and brave friends in recovery. 

Also, stay tuned for an exciting announcement about some live, local musicians! 

We appreciate ALL of you who have liked, shared, followed, and supported MTA every step of the way. Let's keep the love going! 

See you June, 14 at the Valley Park. 💚 #morethanaddiction

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"My life was completely transformed thanks to Jesus, my husband, and the hope that I was given. ❤️" - Kayla

"I was addicted to heroin and pain pills for six years. 

I was depressed. 
I was angry. 
I was sad. 

I made wrong decisions and put myself in places and situations that made my addiction worse. 

In 2014 I met a man at my place of employment who barely knew me and wanted to take me out to dinner to tell me about a dream that he had that he felt was from the Lord. I went out to dinner with him and he told me the dream. The dream was me with a sword in my leg that was hindering my walk and if it were not pulled out I was going to die. A wind blew over me and as it blew the sword was being pulled out. 
He described and interpreted the dream that I would be healed completely.

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"Today, though, I am freed from that bondage of self." - Jason

What is my passion? To help others be freed from the bondage of Self. 

I work with other people by sharing my experiences, and sometimes I get to watch the lights come on for them. I get to watch hope arise from them when they finally realize that they can have a new life. I sponsor a few guys in recovery and volunteer as much as I can at various treatment programs. To be able to see others transform from being bound up by selfish "what's in it for me" motives and turn into people who genuinely care about the well being of others is absolutely the highlight of my life. That and being a full time Dad to an amazing 8yr old boy!

While I admit that my methods in working with others can, at times, seem abrasive, that's exactly what it took for me. 

Due to several forms of abuse I experienced as child, my entire life, I carried myself as if the world was unfair to me and I just didn't fit anywhere. There were also feelings of worthlessness in coming from a broken home. 

By the time I made it to Recovery, I literally lost everything. My family's home, my car, custody of my child to the state for a second time and every person in my life that ever really cared for me. I lost it all. But that's what it took. 

I always tell the people in recovery that it takes what it takes, and that is different for everyone. 

For me, it was losing it all. 

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"Suffering from the disease of addiction and embarking on a journey of recovery allowed me to be reborn." - Cassidy

I’m a daughter. I’m a daughter who has put her mother through hell and has worked hard to rebuild that relationship. I’m a daughter who calls her mom every night, whether it is just to say hi or for cooking advice (I’m definitely not the best cook). I’m a daughter who never misses a holiday, even when I live 1,500 miles away from my mom.

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"Today I focus more on what we can give the world..." - Sam & Nichole

Sam and Nichole share trust, faith, and a deep commitment to one another. Both are in recovery. 

Nichole wants people to understand that addiction is much more than a drink or drug, that it lives in a person’s mind, and even without drugs or alcohol they suffer from a disease of the mind and body. She says, “It is about the actual behaviors that I need to address more than the substance I use to mask this disease.”

And Sam offers that confronting addiction “is larger than any small sum of people who think they have the answers” and that “we must come together and cooperate to make real progress against every facet that continues to contribute to this epidemic.”

And that includes empowering others. 

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"Don’t hide behind a loved one's addiction..." - Shanna

I am a passionate advocate for recovery and education. Education is one of the most powerful tools we can have. The more we learn the more we grow.

I absolutely love watching people find themselves and love themselves again. By this, I mean both those in Recovery AND family and friends.

I consider myself an incredibly empathetic person, so when I see someone hurt...I hurt with them. But when I see them grow and blossom, I am over the moon happy. Seeing a family heal is the best feeling.

I spent many years watching someone I love battle addiction and substance abuse. He had an absolute heart of gold, knew exactly what to say when I needed it, and gave the very best hugs!

I can’t pinpoint when exactly I became addicted to being his rescuer and protector but I did. Once he found long term recovery, I adopted the identity of being his biggest cheerleader. I never took time to attend any meetings, learn anything about step work, or learn what warning signs of relapse were. The life had returned to his eyes and life was good. Until it wasn’t.

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MTA needs your help...

Through my grief, as I was conceiving of the idea of More Than Addiction, there was one question I returned to again and again: How do we humanize addiction?

My brother Bradley was intelligent, gregarious, and adventurous, and from the get go, my hope was for people to remember this about him. And it got me thinking about the collective societal pats on the back we give ourselves when we feel good about how the worst of what we see in the addicted — either in the media or in our community — would never be us…it couldn’t be, right?

And this question and thinking, of course, led to several other questions.

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"Helping people has helped me change my life. It's helped me learn to be selfless." - Joe

First, I wanted to learn what Joe overcame. When I asked Joe about his addiction story and how drugs impacted his life, it began like this…

“By the grace of God, I have three years clean.

Since I was 17 years old, I’ve not been able to put together three years clean. I had tried on my own. I was introduced to morphine at the age of 11 through T-cell leukemia. In a 8 to 10 months, I had 44 spinal taps, threw up 72 days straight days, wore a hole in my esophagus, had reconstructive surgery on my stomach from throwing up so much.

I had surgery for broviac and catheters and stuff for my chest to do chemo. I went through a lot as a kid, you know.

I was overweight and I gained a lot of insecurities. But my dad was a school teacher and a basketball coach, and he gave me the Rocky Balboa speech. I didn’t look right, and I didn’t feel right, and I felt bad about myself. He handed me a basketball and I fell in love.”

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"I get fulfillment by being my best self." - Tiffany

1- I get fulfillment by being my best self. Being the best wife, mother, EMT, and human I can be is what brings me happiness. I’ve seen the dark side of people in life throughout my childhood and with my job in EMS, so being able to prove that there is genuine people out there and being one of them is what makes me feel satisfied. 

2- The real me is someone who cares about the broken. I’ve seen the good and bad in life. The bad has made me so much more grateful and appreciative of the good. I think so many people go through life without feeling genuine happiness and that’s sad to me. I care about people on such a deep level and I feel everyone deserves to learn how to choose happiness.

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"There is a before and after when you have lost a loved one to overdose." - Cece

There is a before and after when you have lost a loved one to overdose. It changes your reality and your heart. 

You love just a little more, because you know that minutes count. I had the influence of a positive mom who believed that all people held redeeming traits. I carry that same passion in my life. It's who I am. So, my passion is hope in humanity. And my love, is family and friends.

When I started down this path, I lost "me". So I have been healing and reconnecting. This healing happened when I made a decision to be silent no more. 

I lost my youngest son, Ryan, April 25, 2014 to an overdose in Macys bathroom. He was 27 years old. He struggled for seven years with addiction. I sent him to college for a degree and he came home with a heroin addiction. 

He was a bright, funny and talented young man with potential. He had four overdoses with the last one costing him his life. He was on a wait list for two programs when he died and received his Medicaid card just three days before. THIS is why I fight for opportunity. 

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"My passion is to uplift and empower women..." - Ashley

My passion is to uplift and empower women, and help them be more confident. Watching women come from horrible pasts and making an amazing bright future brings me fulfillment.

When I look in the mirror I see a strong, beautiful, talented, leader, warrior, mother, wife, and child of God.

I love helping people and watching them grow into leaders themselves. It sometimes gets hard but I keep going. I found Younique, and it has been my outlet away from recovery. When I do makeup, I am seen for the makeup girl and not the girl that struggled with addiction for 17 years. I can totally just be me and do what I love doing.

My story started at a young age. 

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"I am obliged to tell my story." - Eric

Hello, my name is Eric. Addiction is something I have been exposed to over half my life. Many of my close friends and family members have struggled with substance abuse; not all are still living.

I, myself, spent nearly a decade badly addicted to drugs and alcohol.

Though addiction has an impact on my life, it in no way defines who I am. It is merely something I have had to overcome on my path to genuine selfhood.

My childhood was idyllic. I grew up in Clay County in a nice family, with me being the middle child of five. My father owned a successful business in Charleston, and my mother taught school. The memories of youth consist of fishing on the Elk River, exploring the creeks and ridges, and other activities associated with rural West Virginia life. I did well in school, read a lot, and was a dedicated and accomplished wrestler. I experimented with drugs and alcohol a few times in high school, but by all expectations, I had a bright future ahead of me.

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Hi, I'm Shanna...

Hello, my name is Shanna.

I am a makeup loving, coffee drinking, dog mom who is also an advocate for addiction recovery. My journey began when I was 16 and someone I looked up to and loved dearly started down wrong path.

As a kid, I didn’t think much of him selling marijuana and brushed it off. As we went through college though things progressed and he was selling harder drugs and using more. He acted happy and seemed to have things under control. However, things got worse and I hid most of his problems and lived a lie. I was ashamed, heartbroken, scared, hurt, mad, and confused over his actions.

I thought the world of him and didn’t want anyone thinking he was a junkie or thief so I did what I could to cover things up. He tried many times and various ways to get clean. There were some successes but they were short lived. I felt so alone and had no idea other people were going through same thing. I convinced myself I was going to save him.

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Hi, I'm Kate...

Hi. I’m Kate.

Addiction first entered my life when I was 13 years old. I am the friend, family member, and girlfriend of a substance abuser. If I have learned anything through these years of pain and trauma, I have learned I am so much more than addiction.

I want to save someone else from experiencing what I have. I want to show you there is a light that shines much brighter than addiction. There is hope and together we can make a difference. On December 26th, 2018 I tragically lost the love of my life to an overdose. From that moment forward, my life has changed drastically. I do this in honor of him, and those we have lost to this disease...in the hope that I can help save a precious life.

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Hi, I'm Karla...

Hello, I’m Karla, co-founder of More Than Addiction. I am a wife, teacher, mother, daughter, and friend. I’m also a sister. My baby brother Bradley lost his life to an overdose on December 26, 2018, the day our family was to gather and celebrate Christmas. 

My wonderful and wild little brother was 11 years my junior, and it was always just the two of us. When he was a baby, I rocked him, fed him, and grew into my role as a big sister. And we had many years of normal sibling existence. We ganged up against our parents, had epic fights, played hours of video games, and shared a unique and irreplaceable bond. 

Bradley’s issues with addiction began at a young age.

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