As someone who has personally walked through hell on the path to recovery, I know all too well the battles one must face when confronting Substance Use Disorder (SUD). Today, after struggling for over a decade, I serve as the Chief Revenue Officer at Pretaa, an organization committed to leveraging the power of data to support recovery from SUD, process addictions, and behavioral health concerns. From this vantage point, I have had the privilege to collaborate with leaders in the treatment space as well as other pioneering organizations in the field, including the Darren Waller Foundation.
Established by NFL player Darren Waller, this foundation deeply resonates with me, particularly because of Darren’s story. Like me, Darren has confronted his own addiction issues and transformed his experience into a beacon of hope. His foundation works relentlessly to help youth avoid and overcome addiction, and it extends support to those individuals and their families.
At the heart of the Darren Waller Foundation are two powerful outreach programs: ‘Against The Wall’ and ‘Wall Talks’. The former provides grants to young adults who cannot afford treatment, while the latter involves Darren personally sharing his story to high school students to prevent substance misuse.
While the Darren Waller Foundation relies on community outreach and personal narratives, Pretaa employs a unique, tech-driven approach. We analyze data from wearables to provide loved ones and caregivers with insights about the health and rehabilitation efforts of those in recovery. Despite our differing methods, Pretaa and the Darren Waller Foundation share a deep commitment to a human-centric approach to recovery; We both recognize the critical role of community, support systems, and empathy in the recovery process.
Our shared mission was beautifully embodied in our recent collaboration at the Darren Waller Foundation’s 3rd annual ‘Concert to SHINE On’ fundraiser. It was a heartening experience to witness and be part of a community united in its commitment to support recovery.
The connection between Darren and me goes beyond our organizational collaboration. We first crossed paths years ago during our own treatment journeys. And from our shared treatment experience, we have both gone on to embark on paths where we use our personal stories as catalysts for transformation. Darren, through his foundation, and I, through Pretaa, have channeled our most painful experiences to help normalize SUD and give others hope as they navigate their personal path of recovery.
As I reflect on my trip, I’m reminded that recovery — like any city or town — thrives on community and the resilience of the human spirit. The work of organizations like the Darren Waller Foundation and Pretaa is a testament to the power of shared understanding and the indomitable will to overcome. And as we each continue on our paths, we do so with the knowledge that the hope of brighter days lies just ahead.