Voices of Recovery

Voices of Recovery: Meet Laura Silverman

There are more than 23 million Americans from all walks of life who have found recovery. We would like to celebrate that fact by introducing, highlighting and celebrating the achievements of people in the recovery community while also breaking down the negative stereotypes and stigmas built around addiction and recovery.

How old are you? 34

Where do you live? Washington, D.C., metro area

Who are you, and what do you do? I’m the founder of The Sobriety Collective, a community for creatives (musicians, artists, writers, comedians, entrepreneurs, photographers, etc.) in recovery from substance use disorder and mental illness. I also just accepted a position as director of community relations at Potomac Pathways, an intensive outpatient program (IOP) for teens and young adults with substance use disorder.

What is your relationship to addiction and recovery? I have a very personal, very storied relationship to both. I grew up a socially anxious but relatively happy child with a caring and active family. I say relatively because my home life was wonderful, but school was torture: I was bullied mercilessly in elementary and middle school (and even some of high school). I began suffering from symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorderat age 6 or 7, but I never understood my plight until I took a Psychology 101 class in college. Suffice it to say, I didn’t feel like the only person in the world anymore who had bizarre, obsessive thoughts and felt the need to perform rituals ad nauseum. Reading about the condition in a textbook, though I hadn’t met anyone with OCD at that point, made me feel less alone. Still, I was dealing with that and anxiety, and in college, I wanted to stage a not-so-quiet rebellion because I rarely acted out up until then.

Fortunately, I never grew physically dependent on alcohol, but my patterns with drinking were abusive and disordered — and I had a definite psychological attachment to how it made me feel (less anxious) and who it made me become (seemingly more popular and the life of the party). I used (or abused) alcohol as a coping mechanism for six years before I found recovery, but it certainly wasn’t a linear process. The drinking got more and more abusive, though I wasn’t deliberately trying to mess up my life or hurt others around me. As they say: First fun, then fun with problems, then just problems. By my second hospitalization for alcohol poisoning, I was ready and willing to get help.

I checked into an IOP so I could continue going to work. I addressed underlying mental health issues that were causing me to turn to alcohol as a crutch. It’s been nine blissful, messy, beautiful, scary, love-filled, topsy-turvy years since. I say that because to be in recovery you fully feel your feelings and are accountable for your actions. It certainly isn’t all wine and roses — pun very much intended. Recovery is living, fully living. And life is perfect in all its imperfections.

Also, it’s ridiculously amazing to not have hangovers. Ever.

Where did you go to school, what did you study and when did you graduate? University of Virginia. Major: sociology; minor: Spanish. Class of 2005

What is on your bookshelf? A bajillion recovery memoirs and personal development books just waiting for me to bust them open. Some that I’m currently reading: The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh, The Power of Intention by Dr. Wayne Dyer, My Fair Junkie: A Memoir of Getting Dirty and Staying Clean by Amy Dresner.

What is a superpower you’d like to have? In straight-up superhero terms, I’d love to teleport back in time or forward into the future. To fly, be immortal, erase world public health issues, protect my family, never have financial stress again — wait, I’m confusing what I want to accomplish with what I want D.C. or Marvel to grant me. *wink*

What’s something most people don’t know about you? I was born in Egypt. I have been a huge Hanson fan for the past 20 years. I was voted worst dressed in eighth grade (in a school with uniforms). I was super active in high school musical theater (*jazz hands*). I am a Jason Mraz devotee who traveled the country with other fans to see him perform.

What would you do if you won the lottery? Pay off all of my debt, put crazy amounts into savings, have someone invest for me, travel the world, start my own business and nonprofit, donate to every single charity I’ve ever wanted to contribute toward, provide for my immediate and extended family, buy a few houses in a few different countries (because why not?!), and keep giving back.

What item in your closet do you wear the most? My SOBER necklace and Chuck Taylors

What actor would play you in a movie? I feel like Sandra Bullock already played me in 28 Days … seriously.

Who is your ultimate dinner date? If I could choose anyone, deceased or living, I’d use the above superpowers to go back in time, break bread with The Beatles and cut an album with them after dinner.

What brings you the greatest joy? Connecting with my recovery tribe, online and in person; spending time with my parents, nephews, extended family and close friends; karaoke; cooking; yoga; nature walks; beaches; dark chocolate; sleep; food, ALL THE FOOD; knowing that my story and how I’m using it is impacting someone’s life for the better

What are you proudest of? My 10+ years of continuous sobriety and building a healthy, holistic recovery

What is your favorite quote? “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” —William Edward Hickson

What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger? That it’s OK to be different; that I should embrace who I am; that no matter what, I am loved

What does your future hold? I predict soul-changing, life-affirming next steps. But how they’re manifested? Only the universe knows. Future, bring it on!

Voices of Recovery captures the trials, tribulations and, most importantly, the joys of being in recovery. If you or someone you know is interested in being featured, please email kelseydallen@gmail.com.


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