Back in my early teens, I suffered a knee injury and was prescribed opiates to help with the discomfort. At some point, I began using my medication to treat more than just my physical pain. My father passed away in 2010, which sent me further down the spiral of addiction.
Fast forward to 2013, I began working at Amazon. To the untrained eye, I had my life under control: I was progressing in my career, had met my future wife, and spent my days enjoying time with friends and family in Southern California. But my substance use disorder stood between me and my happiest, healthiest life—and the problem kept getting worse. It eventually became an all-consuming personal struggle. Trying to deal with and overcome addiction is like having another full-time job.
Eventually, my career at Amazon provided me the opportunity to move to Salt Lake City, Utah—an environmental reset I desperately needed to help me start a fresh chapter in my life. After a six-year struggle, I stopped abusing opiates in 2018. As I began to recover, I decided to take a leap of faith and share my story with my team at Amazon. After receiving overwhelming support from my team, I took things a step further, presenting company leadership with an idea for peer-based recovery support.
In 2022, I launched Recovery@Amazon, an employee resource group for Amazon employees who are suffering from addiction or are in recovery. The group provides a space for all Amazon employees battling different kinds of addiction—whether it’s drugs, alcohol, shopping, gambling, or anything else.
I am one of millions of Americans who have battled addiction throughout their lives. The U.S. Department for Health and Human Services reported that in 2021 alone, 46.3 million Americans met the criteria for having a substance use disorder. It’s no surprise that our large and diverse workforce has people who struggle with addiction in one way or another, and the response that Recovery@ has received so far from Amazon employees has been amazing.
We spend a lot of our time with colleagues, and it’s crucial to foster relationships with them. If I hadn’t had the support of my peers and leadership at Amazon, I probably wouldn’t have been able to overcome my addiction to opiates. There were times I confided in colleagues during really tough days, and I was able to work with my manager to take time off to see the doctor for medicine-assisted treatment. It’s rewarding to be able to help others going through similar recovery journeys.
Through Recovery@, we run an internal site filled with resources for employees and host Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings on a regular basis. We’ve also had the privilege of bringing leading addiction experts to our virtual events, such as Stanford University professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Dr. Anna Lembke.
In addition to providing support to Amazon employees, Recovery@ aims to educate others on substance use disorder, destigmatize addiction, and normalize conversation about addiction, recovery, and sobriety in the workplace.
As a large employer in the U.S., it’s critical that Amazon offers a wide variety of substance use disorder benefits to meet the needs of employees and their family members. I’m proud that Amazon does—in a holistic way, to help families wherever they are in their recovery journeys.
Benefits available to us range from free counseling sessions through Amazon’s Employee Assistance Program that can be used at Hazelden Betty Ford; travel reimbursement for substance use care (including for services that require admission to a facility or residential treatment); virtual substance use care access through Workit and Boulder; 24/7 free mental health care through Twill; free pediatric mental health counseling sessions through Brightline for kids and teens struggling with substance use disorder; and community-based resources through the National Alliance of Mental Illness. Having access to resources like this at the push of a button means more opportunities for employees and family members to get the care they need when they need it.
Because of the support I have had, I’m now living a life that I never thought would be possible during the worst days of my addiction, and now I have the opportunity to try and help others with their own recovery. As the founder of Recovery@, I get to work with Amazon Benefits and other teams and advise on the employee experience related to substance use disorder. I’ll continue to fight to destigmatize addiction and recovery in the workplace each and every day—through conversations with Amazon leadership and colleagues, and through Recovery@.
Learn more about the wide range of benefits Amazon offers employees.