North Carolina has quickly become a common location for my speaking. In fact, in March next year alone I will be spending an entire week giving presentations. Phoenix Counseling invited me for this latest trip to Gastonia, North Carolina. The line-up was a presentation to be given to a group in treatment and also a group of high school students from Gaston Day.
I love telling my story in general but when I get to share my story with those of the same cloth as me, it's very special. It's special because in my 9 years of sobriety, my substance abuse problems don't seem that far from home. I'll never forget the pain, struggle and defeat that substance abuse brought into my life. So when I speak to this crowd, i'm essentially speaking to a multitude of Tony's from 9.5 years ago. Broken souls, needing change, down on life and completely lost in terms of how to get their life back on track. When we are in the depths of our drug addiction we cannot see the future in a positive light, we are deprived of any kind of hope and we are in need of something to give us that hope. I pray every time before I speak that my voice, story and presence leaves those who listen with that hope they need. The hope that where they are in that moment is not where they have to be in a week, month or year from now. It is possible to overcome addiction and find peace in our lives. I always leave my audience of this sort with the understanding that life is not about these extravagant accomplishments but that we can go to bed and wake up in the morning, sober, happy, at peace and striving to be better than the next day. The response from this crowd was amazing, they were so receptive. A person in the audience that was not in full time treatment reached out to me afterward about checking in as a result of hearing my story and is already relocated in an awesome in-patient treatment center, just DAYS after hearing me speak. That's what it's about.
Gaston Day was my second presentation and a very cool campus I might add. Their auditorium, the location I spoke in, was beautiful. The students were all on wonderful behavior and were equally receptive to my presentation. The staff were very in tune with their students you could tell by their interactions. I don't care what city or state you are in, students will benefit from hearing my story. It is so multifaceted in terms of what has happened in my life. It is more than just a stark warning to those who are making bad choices and the dangers of substance abuse. My story is also an admonishment to those who have goals, make good choices and are pursuing their dreams! Phoenix, thank you so much for having me!