Advocacy Trainer, NCADD-NJ
Mariel Harrison is 28 years old and a resident of Point Pleasant, NJ. She is a daughter, sister, aunt, girlfriend and friend. She is a voter and a tax-payer. She is a valued employee and a full-time student, with a 3.958GPA. Mariel loves coffee, cupcakes, sushi and kale! Mariel is also a young-person in long term recovery from substance use disorder – which means she has not taken a drink or used a drug since May 2007. For the majority of Mariel’s teenage years she was afflicted with alcohol and drug addiction. At the age of 20 she was homeless and prostituting on the streets of South Norwalk, Connecticut. Alcohol and drug addiction derailed Mariel’s life leaving her bankrupt emotionally, financially, physically and spiritually. Mariel’s journey since entering recovery has been incredible – full of joy, love, laughter, purpose, faith, service, compassion and courage. In the past two short years, Mariel has immersed herself wholeheartedly in mental health and addiction advocacy work.
She is currently employed by the National Council of Alcoholism and Drug Dependency (NCADD-NJ) in their Public Affairs department, working as an advocacy trainer. She also sits on various boards and coalitions throughout the state (including but not limited too: Young People in Recovery – NJ, Ocean County Opiate Task Force, Ocean County Continuum of Care Homelessness Prevention and Assistance Coalition). As a young person in recovery herself, she feels it is vital to bring the young person’s voice to the table, when making decisions about addiction prevention, treatment and recovery. Addiction is a disease and it must be treated as such! She has quickly become known and recognized as a dynamic and passionate public speaker who brings a powerful message of both education and hope. Mariel was nominated for the 2014 SAMHSA Voice Award. The Voice Awards program honors the contributions of consumer/peer leaders who have raised awareness and understanding of mental health and substance use disorders. Mariel has dedicated her life to advocacy and her wish is to be part of the movement that revolutionizes the way addiction and mental health are viewed and treated.