Last week I had the opportunity to speak at TEDxZumbroRiver in Rochester, Minnesota. The experience was life changing, exciting, and inspiring to say the least. When I started More Than An Addict last year, I had one goal in mind – to start an organization that would inspire individuals in recovery from addiction to reach their full potential. Too often I had observed those in recovery had their potential put into question because addiction was a part of their past. This didn’t sit well with me. What if your past wasn’t a disqualifier, but your present was a qualifier? Because for those who have beat addiction, this means recovery is in your present …and that is a powerful thing.

Tori Utley, Founder and executive director of more than an addict presenting at tedxzumbroriver on may 5, 2016

Tori Utley, Founder and executive director of more than an addict presenting at tedxzumbroriver on may 5, 2016

At More Than An Addict, we’re not afraid of big dreams when we encourage individuals in recovery to strive and achieve their full potential. Whether that dream is owning a business, going back to school, or developing the next invention – we believe it’s possible. We believe all that’s missing is a society that understands recovery and values its’ importance appropriately. By empowering the individuals who have courageously battled addiction, we will see millions of people leverage their life experience to benefit society. And better yet, we’ll see that same skill be transformed into something tangible in recovery – something that can influence our communities and our companies.

There are over 23 million people living in recovery from addiction today. This is an amazing feat showing that recovery is possible and that it surrounds us every day. On behalf of the millions of those who have battled addiction and have won, let us be a society that is empowering and validating of the human experience. We will observe that the experience of recovery can transcend into the workplace and create dynamite employees – those who are creative, driven, and tenacious.

We’ve spread the idea, and we’re excited to keep building what we’ve started. When people get together in a room and are confronted with problems, solutions, and new ideas, big change can happen. My hope is that those who heard the idea behind More Than An Addict at TEDxZumbroRiver are inspired to be leaders of change in our community. This is a lofty goal, but one we believe is possible and worthy of our time and effort.

Don’t look down on those with addiction in their past – validate the amazing things they have accomplished in their recovery, equip them with support, and empower them in the workplace. This is a drastically different end to the story about what can happen on the other side of addiction – and it’s called recovery. And recovery not only transforms lives, but it has the potential to transform our companies and communities.

Let’s continue to show those in recovery that they are more than the labels they’re given as a result of their past – they’re more than an addict.

Tori Utley
Founder & Executive Director


If you are interested in financially supporting those who have recovered from addiction by empowering them to pursue opportunities in education, employment, or entrepreneurship, please consider giving a gift today.