My name is Mark Vick, and I am a person in recovery from a substance use disorder. For me, that means I haven’t taken a drink, drug, or other mind altering substance since May 27, 2015. Since that time, my life is no longer unmanageable and has never been better! I have regained the respect of my family and professional colleagues.

I started regularly drinking at the age of 15. I was popular and a successful athlete and student, and got my bachelor’s and master’s degrees immediately after high school. I was a so-called ‘All-American guy’.

I then worked professionally as a men’s basketball staff member at a couple NCAA Division 1 institutions. One of our teams made the March Madness Tournament, and I mentored four future NBA players.

All the while, my life was growing into something unmanageable, without a clear reason why. Even though I drank nearly every night, I didn’t see the connection. As a divorced man with no kids, I still rationalized I deserved my “me time.” I worked hard, so I drank just as hard.

Bosses and family members brought attention to my excessive drinking, but I continued. I lost jobs and friends. After a while, I was working road construction for $9 an hour and as a bouncer at a small-town bar. This was just two short years after coaching games on ESPN.

Mark VickThe picture attached is of a Trailblazer that I totaled while drinking in February, 2015. As scary as that may have been, this still wasn’t the end of my drinking. I needed a few more months of research to figure out I had a problem and needed help. For me, will power wasn’t enough!

I am now a recovery coach with Northern Michigan Substance Abuse Services (NMSAS). I have collected over 50 Continuing Education Units in substance use disorder advocacy. I’ve worked with and been mentored by nationally renowned advocates, and I am working to become a certified peer recovery mentor.

I’m am thankful to my Higher Power. Connecting to a spiritual source, as well as to like-minded individuals, has saved me. I now can help others who struggle. This is what peer recovery support services does. In my opinion, PRSS is the best and most effective way for people like us to recover. People like us includes people that are most often described by using insensitive and stigma-perpetuating terms like: druggies, pill-heads, junkies, and drunks.

Many disagree on whether our issue is a disease or a choice, but either way someone feels the stigma. Hurtful terms create barriers to recovery and end up contributing to the 144 American lives lost everyday! I ask all to please be sensitive and educate yourself before making such statements.

Mark VickIt is very liberating to share my experience. I now aim to carry a message of hope. Recovery is possible. I want to say this to those who are struggling or have a loved one who is struggling. My family is now starting a new community friendly business. We’re bringing excitement, energy and hope to our hometown, which has been struggling since the most recent recession.

Love to all who have supported me over the past two years!