Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, here is the founder of Recovery is the New Black, Michelle Smith. As a podcaster, TEDx speaker, author, certified mental health and addictions counselor, Michelle uses her platform in order to provide individuals with the best guidance and practices in order for them to begin their own journey towards sobriety.
As a dually credentialed counselor, Michelle has utilized her efforts in order to effectively treat both mental health and substance use disorders. She has cultivated a recovery framework that gets all participants on track for long term success and sobriety. Michelle isn’t just an advocate for sobriety, but has her own personal experiences and journey with obtaining it, giving her the capacity to lead others as they go through their own struggles.
Soberocity [S]: How much has your life changed since November 24th, 2016?
Michelle [M]: It’s been a complete 180 degree shift. I’ve done a lot of work around trauma, grief and loss, and postpartum depression. Once I began healing the parts of my life that brought me great emotional and mental pain, I was able to refrain from utilizing alcohol as a tool to cope.
[S]: Why did you decide on the name “Recovery is the new Black” for your platform?
[M]: People say that something is “the new black” to mean that it is suddenly fashionable or popular. This has become a catchphrase over the years, especially in the fashion world. My career over the past 20 years has been in forensic psychology and addiction treatments inside correctional institutions. After watching the Netflix services “Orange Is the New Black,” and recovering out loud, the name was conceived.
[S]: Did you ever think that you would be doing the work you’re currently doing?
[M]: Yes, but I never thought I’d have the “first hand experience” to support my clientele. I assumed my support as a clinician would be through textbook and years of experience in the field.
[S]: What does “sobriety” mean to you?
[M]: It’s a choice to refrain from all mind altering chemical. To show up authentically, unapologetically, on a fully present and conscious level.
[S]: You talked about not properly dealing with losing your loved ones. What would you tell others who are experiencing losing those they love but are unsure of how to properly deal with it?
[M]: Grief is tricky and comes in waves. It’s important to not suppress or stuff your feelings around the loss. There is no perfect way to grieve. Grief is a unique experience and only you can decide how it feels and looks. Asking for help to process the cycle of grief is so helpful to the healing journey. Doing this alone can often lead to isolation, deep depression, and often substance abuse. Reach out to a trusted friend or profession is a great place to begin.
[S]: What is one piece of advice you would give someone struggling with sobriety in COVID-19?
[M]: Get connected! The opposite of addiction is connection. Find like minded people exploring alcohol-free living along side you. Follow inspirational sober accounts on social media. Download sober podcasts and audible books. Begin filling your head with sobriety and drinking with never be the same.
[S]: What are some new tactics/initiatives you’ve utilized with others seeking sobriety during this pandemic?
[M]: All meet-ups, counseling sessions, and support meetings transitioned into the online space. This opportunity was helpful for individuals who’s barriers to treatment and services were transportation, daycare, and minimal time. Support has been accessible 24/7 from anywhere you have WIFI connection.
[S]: Are there any success stories that have truly impacted you? Could you share one?
[M]: I worked with a nurse who got addicted to prescription after the unexpected death of her husband and daughter. She was taken into custody after driving under the influence. She was given the opportunity to participate in residential treatment from substance abuse and trauma. She worked an intensive outpatient treatment program and received her nursing licenses back. She is now 3 years clean and sober, remarried, and is expecting a new baby boy.
[S]: Is there anything you’d like the work on or anything you’d like to work with in the future?
[M]: My future goals are to become a keynote speaker to normalize sobriety and provide awareness around addiction in our public schools and workplace. Also, open a residential treatment facility for moms and children.
“Nothing lights me up more than working with women who are ready to step out of their darkness and into the light. All you need is to cultivate a warrior mindset and the belief that you are beyond worthy”. -Michelle Smith
Keep up-to-date with Michelle as she continues changing the narrative and making recovery the new black.