Empowering Recovery

The Impact of Giving Back
Empowering Recovery, Steve Steve has reached thousands by speaking to patients and as a recovery contact.
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The biggest impact has come from listening to the wisdom of alumni who came before me.

Steve Chaudoin
Recovery Contact

Envision a world where the support of a recovery community is just a phone call or text message away. To realize this bold vision, it will take more individuals like Steve Chaudoin. He felt that the presence of successful alumni at the Betty Ford Center gave him hope like nothing else could, during his stay there in 2004.

"The Betty Ford Center has impacted my life in deep and profound ways," he shares. "But above all, the biggest impact has come from listening to the wisdom of alumni who came before me." He made a commitment to return the next year to collect his one-year recovery chip. He has been returning once or twice a year ever since, to be of service to his fellows.

Steve's commitment didn't end there. He also pledged to help others returning from the Betty Ford Center to his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. Hazelden Betty Ford maintains a list of recovery contacts in cities across the US and Canada, who volunteer to help connect recent alumni with their local recovery community. The results are quite clear. Numerous studies have shown that continued engagement with a recovery network improves long-term outcomes for people with substance use disorders.

All told, Steve has been the initial point of contact for dozens of men returning to Atlanta after their stay at a Hazelden Betty Ford site. And in the process of being of service to others, Steve has made lifelong friendships. He recalls his first recovery contact, years ago, who reached out as he traveled back to Atlanta from treatment. The man's flights had been rerouted, and he wasn't going to get home until the wee hours of the morning. "I told him, ‘I totally understand. But the meeting is tomorrow at 10 a.m., and I hope to see you there,'" Steve recalls. They met at that meeting and have been in touch ever since.

Steve views long-term recovery as an evolving experience, not without challenges. "People sometimes express admiration for my [many] years of sobriety," he says. "But I tell them: One day can change our world. All we have is the 24 hours ahead of us."

Steve encourages other alumni to get involved in helping others—in whatever way is best for them. "Sometimes it's easy to write a check, and sometimes it's not," he says. "But it is always easy to help someone else."

That belief is what keeps Steve going, answering his phone, responding to texts and sharing his story with others. "All I can do is share hope," he says, "which is what we all need most."

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