January 12, 2016 | Continuing Ed with Ed Baker
"Continuing Ed" with Ed Baker: Nice to Meet You!
My name is Ed Baker. I’ve been an LICSW and LADC for 30 years.
As the Addiction Education Specialist for Burlington Labs, my job is to educate people about the inner workings of addiction and its impacts on communities. I answer questions from Burlington Labs staff, and I also give presentations on current drug trends to outside partners, organizations and community leaders.
By way of introduction, I’d like to tell you “my story.”
I’ll begin with a statement I’ve heard countless times at NA and AA meetings over the past 30 years: “I didn’t set out to be an addict/alcoholic” and “I didn’t want this to happen.” This is certainly true for me, but I became both anyway. This is how that happened.
My father died suddenly when I was just 13, devastating my entire family; my mother, two sisters, and my brother. I was the youngest sibling by 10 years.
Nobody ever talked about what happened, and I was filled with emotional pain; my home was a depressing place to be, and I hit the street.
On the street I found people to hang out with who weren’t depressed, and I found what we now call “self-medication”: nicotine, alcohol and marijuana.
Drugs worked for me, I thought. I became a Hippie, disguised my progressing addiction as counter-cultural protest, and eventually let another Hippie stick a needle in my arm. From 1966 to 1973, I used drugs intravenously, lived on the street, and grew hopeless.
In 1973 I went into treatment for 17 months at a Therapeutic Community in the Bronx, and began an earnest attempt at abstinence from everything but alcohol. From 1973 to 1984, I developed full-blown alcoholism, and relapsed with intravenous drug use intermittently. During this period I also completed both Undergraduate and Graduate Degrees in Social Work, married, and had two sons: I lived the “double life.”
My final bottom occurred in 1984, and I’ve enjoyed unbroken Recovery ever since, made possible by the rock-solid guidance of the Fellowships and the sensitive support of a few talented therapists.
In 1985, I began focusing my therapy practice on people suffering from addiction, and I have enjoyed a fulfilling professional career in this field ever since. Being able to offer therapy – and a message of hope – to people suffering from addiction has brought tremendous joy to my life.
While my life story has certainly had its ups and downs, I wouldn’t trade one minute of it. You can never change the past, but you can change the meaning of the past by how you live the present.
I look forward to continuing the conversation about addiction, treatment and recovery.
Ed will be back in a few weeks with his next blog post on a current topic in drug addiction, treatment and recovery.
Have an issue you'd like Ed to cover? Drop him an e-mail!
Read more articles from our January/February 2016 issue of our newsletter, "TheBuzz":
Massachusetts Lab Increases Capacity with Facility Move
My Story: I Gave Up a Kidney -- and Gained a Friend
Compassion in Action: Adopting Families for the Holidays; Polar Express
Event Educates, Unites Families Impacted by Addiction
From the Lab Bench: Not All Assays Are Created Equal
Partner Profile: Richard Winant, Kelly House, Wakefield MA
Drug Trivia: Alcohol Use During Pregnancy
Patient Services News: Burlington Extends Hours; Rutland Ribbon-Cutting