Cameron Bakhtiar, is a story I would like to share. By the age of 19, Cameron had been reserved to the fact he would not live to the age of 21...Fast forward 8 years later.
I want to start this article off by listing some incredible talents we all should be able to identify; Oprah Winfrey, Bradley Cooper, Elton John, Eminem, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Hudson, Brad Pitt, Robert Downey Jr., Sir Anthony Hopkins, Zac Efron, Pharrell Williams and I could continue (source comopolitan.com) Every one of these talented, diverse people of race, religion, sexual orientation and gender are all in active recovery. Let me repeat, these incredibly well known individuals, brands you could say, are the exact same people in our households, marriages, families, schools and workplaces that have come from active addiction to lead a life of active recovery. To put a “popular” face to the reality that addiction is not a death sentence, but a blessing to many of us whom live with the disease and understand a deeper sense of identity, pain, humility, service and willingness. As the French author, Raphaelle Giordano, titled her famous book “Your second life begins when you realize you only have one.”
This is the story for the young people, there is a life beyond your wildest dreams, and here are two people that can help. I am happy to know both.
Cameron Bakhtiar, is a story I would like to share. By the age of 19, Cameron had been reserved to the fact he would not live to the age of 21. He had been to numerous rehabs, saw no hope in a life he was overwhelmed by, no relation with his parents, and no prospects for a future. Once a great athlete, he was now a great drug dealer and drug abuser. As Cameron told me, “I was watching life go by and I could not even participate”.
Fast forward 8 years later, with continuous sobriety, and Cameron owns a home, a car, is a successful account executive for treatment center relations, and lives a life beyond his imagination from his outlook at age 19. How did he do it? Why did recovery catch for him?
Cameron said that when he surrendered to the fact he could not drink safely, like normal people do, he could focus on all the items that caused him to want to drink. Cameron began to understand his fears, pride, ego and codependency issues. It was an immense amount of work, but as he says today to your people trying to get sober, “You have no idea how amazing life will become.” If you told him at 19, when thought his life would be over at 21, that he paid bills, had savings, owned houses and had an amazing relationship with his parents, he would have never believed it. Cameron runs a sober house locally, sponsors young men on how to become sober, helps addicts find recovery centers, takes people to meetings and is proof that their is joy and fulfillment inn recovering from addiction at an early age. Cameron could not imagine life any other way.
Ethan Hershman, by all accounts, was a successful for profit CEO of a company he started. After 28 years sober, Ethan kept asking himself, why have I stayed sober when many have not? What’s different about me or what I do?
What Ethan realized was that he focused within his recovery regiment a healthy dose of working out, mental therapy, recovery meetings and eating healthy. He found he was releasing dopamine (happy hormone) in the body’s most natural way (through exercise and healthy eating) whereby substance abuse was always the trigger for test chemical release. Additionally, Ethan found that he was surrounding himself with likeminded people that also nurtured personal growth for him and the collective. He became committed to CrossFit. This realization, is what spurred Ethan’s vocation for his next phase of life.
Ethan is a co-owner of a gym in Greenwich. In that gym, Ethan created “Move to Heal” (movetohealct.org). A nonprofit that combines exercise workouts for people in recovery followed by a recovery meeting. Ethan has created alliances with gyms in Greenwich, Branford, New Haven, East Longmeadow MA and soon Westport, whereby people in recovery that come to these meetings can get free memberships to the gym if they commit to go to the gym two times a week. Additionally, Ethan’s daughter, Alexandria Hershman, is a licensed therapist that offers free counseling services to those members of Move to Heal that would otherwise not have access to clinical help. Alexandria serves the CT area, but members can also go to their preferred clinician and Move to Heal will subside the therapy costs.
Additionally, Colleen Delany, a part owner of the Greenwich gym and board member of Move to Heal, acts as the nutritionist for the organization. Colleen’s own story of managing her own digestive battles creates an immediate connectedness to the members of Move to Heal. Colleen creates, mentors and guides members of Move to Heal to their own personalized diet routine. This is FREE to members of the group.
Ethan realized that access to physical activity, clinical therapy, group meetings, and education on eating healthy were large components to his success of a 28 year continuous sobriety. They represent the Four Pillars that Move to Heal stands by as their mission. It is his passion to give that same opportunity back to those in recovery who cannot afford it or have access to it. Ethan and his associates at Move to Heal are bringing exercise, therapy, diet planning and recovery meetings to people in a way that breaks down barriers of access and creates community.
Both Cameron and Ethan are just two examples, locally, of people that have never strived in personal fulfillment more than they have today. Their passion for helping others, inspiring youths in our area to get sober and stay sober, has led them to say, “They have never had it so good”.
By Pam Johnson
Stay up to date with our latest news. Be sure to stay in touch to see what we are doing in our community.