My name is Taylor Lovallo and I am in long term recovery from substance use disorder. This means I have not used mind altering substances or alcohol since February 16, 2013. My journey to recovery started on that day when I was just 19 years old, at an inpatient rehab program in Florida. I am from New Bern, NC and was raised by my amazing parents that provided anything and everything for my two little brothers and I. I was a very smart and outgoing kid, always getting in trouble at school for talking too much and loved softball, singing, and dancing. I started drinking when I was 14 years old. That quickly escalated to trying other substances whenever I could and looking for parties to go to every weekend during high school. I began getting high before classes, sleeping in class, or simply not showing up at all. My grades started slipping, my ambitions gradually disappeared, and I was kicked off the high school dance team right before our nationals tournament my junior year. It started because I thought it was “cool” and I so badly wanted to fit in with the popular kids. Little did I know that this would turn in to a heroin addiction that I found myself not being able to control. I never thought that would happen to me. By 19 my parents sent me to my first and only rehab facility where I learned through individual and group counseling the tools I needed to be able to achieve long term recovery. I am now married and live with my husband and our two precious dogs. I am back in college for the first time in 8 years to finish my degree and life can be hectic but man, it is good.
Ever since I learned what a recovery high school is from Mary Ferreri 3 years ago, I often wonder what could have been different if this had been an option for me during my active addiction in high school. A resource like this could have saved my family and I from a lot of struggles and heartache back then. Emerald School of Excellence (ESE) is going to transform so many beautiful young people just by creating this safe and fun environment to learn and recover for kids that were and are like me. Faith, fitness and fellowship are the three principles that ESE stands by. The staff will have faith in you and your recovery until you learn how to have faith in yourself. Fitness is incorporated into the daily schedule and outside field trips/activities will help rebuild lost strength and endurance while positively altering brain chemistry and promoting a healthy lifestyle. Lastly, there is fellowship. Fellowship is so important in recovery. We have to learn how to recreate our life and that includes making new friends. Being able to surround yourself with people that have the same goals as you and understand your past struggle is a game changer. It creates a bond that is like no other. I know for me it was so shocking to see and meet other people that understood exactly what I was going through and we built amazing friendships that were all about supporting one another. This school is going to save so many lives here in Charlotte and I can not wait to watch it flourish. Thank you for reading my story.