The winner for Recovery Brands’ LIVES Challenge will soon be announced. But to keep the conversation going, we sat down with the actress from our video, Chelsee Ferk, to hear about her experience working with More Than An Addict and her journey to find recovery.

Ferk is a person living in long-term recovery and states that she first became interested working with More Than An Addict when she heard the name of the organization. She says it resonated with her, “I felt plagued by the word ‘addict’. It felt like a label that set a precedence that allowed anyone to determine my character over one piece of my existence.” She goes on to say that this was debilitating to her self-confidence, keeping her in shame and keeping her from sharing this part of her life with others. 

Beyond relating to More Than An Addict, Ferk shares that the video in particular struck a chord with her. “It takes courage to take ownership of past choices and allow space for self-worth. I went through this feeling when applying for jobs and finally getting an interview. Like in the video, the words ‘here’s my chance’ entered my mind, helping me remember that I had something to offer to companies that would hire me into their organizations.”

Ferk states that believing in yourself and not giving up were both focal points of the video and in her own life. “It was powerful for me to share that reality of my own experience through the video.”

But many often do not speak up about their experience in recovery from addiction – with over 23 million people struggling with addiction, only about 10% of people are receiving treatment. According to Recovery Brands, one of the primary reasons for lack of treatment is stigma and shame – second only to financial concerns.

Regarding stigma, Ferk says this issue is “prevalent and heartbreaking,” she continues, “we have all been affected by addiction whether we are the addict, or we care for the addict. It is a social issue that is often rejected and considered by many as immoral.”

She says there are many misconceptions regarding those who struggle with addiction. “We are not degenerates, we are your daughter, friend, coworker, school teacher, influential person or a part of society.”

But Ferk was not without advice for others who are struggling or who have recovered. She says, “Know this is a journey, know there is a next; living in addiction isn’t it. I have known the exact numbness and emptiness of this disease, but I have experienced tenfold the beauty in this club [recovery] we belong to.”

According to Ferk, the key is reaching out and finding resources that will help you get well and stay well. She adds for others to remember, most importantly, “it is never too late, no matter how many setbacks you have experienced because of your addiction.”

You matter. You are more than an addict.

September is National Recovery Month. To help empower a person living in long-term recovery in their next chapter of life, please consider donating to More Than An Addict