Director of Philanthropy, ScoreMore Shows
Resident Care Staff, Hope Harbor Extended Care
My Name is Zach Edgerton, and I am in long-term recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction. What that means to me is that I am able to have an exciting and fulfilling existence, contributing to my life, my family, and my community.
Growing up I never imagined the aforementioned statement would be my introduction. Born to a cardiac surgeon and a pediatric nurse practitioner, I spent my childhood attending the most competitive schools in Texas, constantly driving to be accepted to the best universities. Success was expected, even demanded. No one imagined I would soon be trading in my scholarships and school visits for arrests and jail stays; me least of all. But at the age of 18, just months after graduating from high school, I became a ward of the legal system for the first time. It was an awful experience that ended up being one of the greatest blessings I could have imagined. After a year-long struggle, I entered recovery for the first time in 2008.
I moved to Austin, Texas where I reapplied myself to my education, moving rapidly from the local community college to The University of Texas (UT) at Austin. At UT I became a member of the Center for Students in Recovery, one of the few collegiate recovery programs in the nation. I studied Psychology and Chemistry with the intentions of applying to medical school upon completion.
However, the course of my life was drastically altered in 2010 when I became suddenly debilitated by an incredibly painful autoimmune disorder known as recurrent Stevens-Johnson syndrome. Stevens-Johnson syndrome causes the blistering of the skin and mucous membranes (eyes, nose, and mouth) as well as rheumatoid arthritis. As I attempted to cope with the disorder, I was also involved in a rollover accident in an off-road vehicle. The combined pain of my auto-immune disorder and the injuries of the wreck left me in a predicament many people in recovery face: how do we safely manage pain in a population that is dependent on psychoactive substances?
After unsuccessful treatment with all non-narcotic options and faced with constant pain, I eventually decided to take the opiates that had been prescribed for me. Lacking recovery support services, my disease led me back to the depths of addiction, and I found myself alone and chemically dependent once more. It would be another year before I found recovery again.
Recovery has given me a life I could have never imagined. Living with my brother, who is also in recovery, my family has slowly been reunited. Successful people in recovery surround me, and I have deep fulfilling relationships. I get to spend my free time riding motorcycles and playing with my dog in the woods! As I continue my education at UT, I also work for two companies that are dear to me and to my recovery. First, as a part of the recovery industry, I provide support services for other men trying to recover. I have also had the opportunity to become the Director of Philanthropy for a concert promotions company. In a consolidation of my professional and personal worlds, we are aiming to create an alcohol-free health and wellness music festival this year for Recovery Month, the first of its kind. Come join us in Austin! We are getting well, and we are loving life!