Andrew Long

On September 3rd, 2014 my dad opened the door to my room and spoke the words I had heard so many times in my life, “we need to talk”. I still get goosebumps thinking about that moment because it was that talk that encouraged me to break the cycle of addiction that seemed so hopeless. My struggle with drug abuse started at age 13 and intensified over its course. I hit the point where I could see my own potential but was road blocked by my compulsion to use. I wanted nothing more than to stop. I could not imagine my life with or without drugs.

Recovery has allowed me to not only reclaim but create a life that I couldn’t have dreamed of. It is not just the story of putting down the drugs but the hurdles that I continue to face, only to overcome with dignity and the help of others. I am now a brother and son that can be available for my family. I am friend to an incredible network of people. I am a college graduate who is finding my life as an adult. Most importantly I am continually learning. My recovery is marked by learning to celebrate my imperfections and be there for others. Life continues to throw its punches, but recovery gives me the glimpse of how perfectly imperfect life is. My father always told me that everyone has their struggles. My recovery story is how those struggles become assets and I am fortunate to continue being a coauthor with those in my community.

Emerald School of Excellence will be such a positive force in the Charlotte community. It is an important project because of the urgent need. This school will give young students a place that will catalyze their growth as they press forward into life. They too will learn to grow from the challenges and move on to create impact in the world.