Profiles in Recovery
Donald McDonald


McDonald is part of “The Hope Squad” – a new approach that police in Raleigh, North Carolina are using to help survivors of drug overdose. Days after reviving someone, a police officer and two recovery experts – which often include McDonald – visit the survivor to provide support, empower recovery, and share information on overdose prevention.

McDonald knows firsthand how recovery can change a life. After struggling with addictions since his youth, McDonald found long-term recovery in 2004, when his four children were little. Sobriety inspired a desire to help others recover, and a master’s degree in social work.

Today McDonald is a leader in North Carolina’s recovery movement, and trains recovery coaches statewide. He serves as Director of Advocacy and Education for the nonprofit Recovery Communities of North Carolina, promoting addiction recovery, wellness and citizenship.

“My proudest moments are when my wife and children tell me that they are proud of me,” McDonald says. “If I am a good man through their eyes, that is all that matters.”

Day Job:
Director of Advocacy & Education at Recovery Communities of North Carolina

What I lost to addiction:
Substance use disorder robbed me of my dignity, my self-worth, my dreams, and my connection with other human beings. I was dying alone and I was becoming increasingly okay with that.

Rules I live by:
Every human deserves an opportunity to recovery – to live – to thrive.

What worked for me:
I needed access to adequate and appropriate treatment on demand. I suffered from a co-occurring mental health issues, childhood trauma, and severe substance use disorder. I needed treatment that included psychiatric care and medication.

Then, I needed to transition into a thriving community of recovery to support me and guide me as I grew up in public. Finally, I needed opportunity to live a full life – to actualize my dreams. We all deserve to get better than well.

Advice to my younger self:
You are not a bad person. You deserve to get better. You deserve to be happy.

On my bucket list:
I want to eat pie with (addiction recovery icons) Bill White and Nora Volkow … at the same time.  I’ve already had pie with Bill, and that was pretty awesome.

Favorite recovery quote:
“Recovery is contagious. Get close to it. Stay close to it. Catch it. Keep catching it. Pass it on.” ~ Bill White

When cravings come:
Use your telephone. Drink a sweet drink. Eat spicy food. Breathe. Wait. Use your telephone again.

What I value most in recovery:
I have found purpose. I know that my gifts came from The Creator, and I can use them to make the world a better place. Recovery gave me a mission.

I get inspired by:
Newcomers inspire me. Recovery initiation is horrifying and daunting and arduous. Choosing the recovery pathway is brave and crazy. I stick around to let them know that it gets better – it gets easier – it gets awesome.

If you’re a person in long-term recovery who wants to share your insights, please contact us at [email protected].


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