Recovery Blog Post – Ethan

I grew up in an upper middle-class family in Bethany, CT. From the outside looking in, my family was an ordinary American family. My mom and dad were well-educated. My mom was an artist, and my dad ran the family recycling business.

What most people didn’t see was that my mother suffered from severe manic depression and when I was growing up there was not much known about this condition. It was only treated with electric shock treatment and heavy sedatives (primarily Thorazine). My father was a functioning drug addict/alcoholic but since his illness didn’t interfere with him raising and providing for his family, it was accepted and largely went unnoticed (at least from outside our immediate family).

As a kid, I had a great life. I was the youngest of four children and my parents provided me with a lot of love and confidence. They always supported me in any activity I wanted to take on. They always made me feel I could be “great” at anything if I spent the time on it and did my best.

During the time I was growing up I witnessed two suicide attempts by my mother. One of these when I
was 8 years old and one when I was 16. On top of this there were many mood swings that were sometimes day to day and sometimes there were much longer periods of normalcy. I’d check on my mom when I came home from school each day, and if she wasn’t well I would make myself invisible until dinner time when my dad got home.

I had my first real drinking and drugging experiences at around age 13 using marijuana and alcohol. Indulging in this behavior made me more popular and less shy. When I was 16, I discovered cocaine and for me it was a wonder drug (at first). It allowed me to talk to anyone (especially girls), hang out and just be more “happy and free” than I had ever been before. The only problem was that it was very expensive, and I didn’t have the means to buy it as often as I wanted. This led me to dealing drugs which made me more popular, and I realized that by having money I could control things in my life in a much more comfortable and seemingly safe way.

My addiction to cocaine and alcohol really kicked in by the time I was 18. It was then that I realized that
I had a problem because I couldn’t stop. I was able to keep my active addictions to the weekends and
was able to work and advance my career at the family business. I was very driven to make money as
that made me feel safe and secure in all aspects of my life. How could I have a “real” problem if I was
successfully moving along in the business?

My addictions progressed over the next decade. The progression culminated with me ending up in the hospital twice from crack cocaine overdoses. After the second OD, with a two-year-old daughter at home, my wife gave me a final ultimatum: either clean up or get out!!

It was then that I entered Alcoholics Anonymous and was ready “to go to any length” to stay clean and

From that point until today I have immersed myself in recovery. I got a sponsor, did service work and worked the 12 steps of AA. After a short time, I started sponsoring people myself and always reached out to anyone new coming into the meetings I was at. I never stopped going to meetings. After 30 years, I still go to 3-5 meetings per week. In addition to all of this, from the very beginning I got outside help through individual therapy. I engaged in physical activity right away and this has been a major part of my recovery the entire time. Due to the physical part of my life, I also became very involved in putting good food in my body to fuel my activities. It doesn’t mean I never eat anything fun. I just always make sure I’m getting the proper nutrition.

My recovery journey has been amazing. I have a wonderful family (3 girls and an amazing wife), a great business career and now the rapidly expanding nonprofit called Move To Heal. Move To Heal (MTH) is a non-profit organization I founded after realizing there were many who could benefit from what worked for me: fellowship, exercise, nutrition, and counseling. With my co-founders, clinician daughter Ally and wellness coach Colleen Delaney, we took a leap of faith that our idea would snowball. Today we have over 1600 people attending at least one of our Intro Fitness classes and support meetings, in 14 locations.

Recovery from any of life’s issues is hard!! I have known so many who had a tenuous hold on recovery, and years later would relapse and die. I’m confident we can improve the statistics and save lives with MTH. My mission and mantra right now: “Move a muscle, change a life”.