As Gerardo (Gee) Matamoros understands it today, his descent into substance use disorder (SUD) was the result of not knowing how to believe in himself. Gee says this resulted in his developing an identity based on what others thought he should do and be, instead of trying to figure it out on his own. “The identity I had was placed upon me…most of my life I did what I was told to do.”
This extended into his professional life in the high-stress advertising industry as well. Gee says abusing substances was common, even encouraged, and that he bought into the unhealthy aspects of his environment and made bad choices. Years of repeating negative behaviors eventually led to his crisis admission to a psychiatric hospital. From there Gee went to rehab, and that’s where he discovered SMART, “The wonderful thing about the place I went is they allowed you to explore different pathways [to recovery], and one of the options was SMART.” This turned Gee’s life in an entirely different direction.
Once Gee learned about SMART’s principles and tools, he was able to address his feelings of confusion, anxiety, and fear. He began to see more clearly that he had within himself the power to change his behavior. “SMART really resonated for me in the way the information is presented and the way you work your own journey and empower yourself.” Gee started setting goals based upon his own values, and making decisions for himself.
One of the things Gee values the most is SMART itself, because he sees how it benefits so many individuals. For the past several years he has taken action based on that value by working on behalf of SMART in several ways. He is a support meeting facilitator, trains facilitators, and has served as President of SMART Recovery NYC.
Then there are the additional actions he has taken on behalf of the Latinx community, something Gee feels is important for him personally, “[I’m thrilled] to help a community that I belong to, am a part of, whether by running an online meeting in Spanish or helping to adapt different materials.” He says he receives texts, emails, and is told in person by participants, that these specific resources are very valuable to the Latinx community.
On a more personal note, Gee credits SMART with providing tools that have helped him grow into a person who now does things he never thought he would do, e.g., publishing a short story, working as a model, and embracing the role of a social activist. “None of this could have been done without all of the support I get from SMART, my family, and friends.”
As illustrated by Gee’s story, the ripple effect of one person benefiting from SMART and then deciding to help others is huge. Gee took that positive impact from his involvement and turned it into action that helped others in the Latinx community. In doing so, he has made it possible for SMART to reach more individuals who are asking for support.
Your year-end gift will be put to work immediately. SMART will be able to continue to support Gee in his work with others, and help more individuals embrace Life Beyond Addiction.
- Gee Matamoros podcast – Swimming Against the Legislative Tides
- SMART Recovery Espanol
- Find Gee Matamoros’ meetings
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