Road to Recovery

Addiction is not an easy story to share. Waiting for Daniel to finish a meeting, Courtney and I were getting more and more nervous. Wearing jeans, a t-shirt, and white Chuck Taylor's, Daniel introduced himself with a welcoming smile. He began to move some of the furniture in order to make sure we were comfortable. Leaning back in his chair to the point where it looked like he could fall backwards, Daniel opened up after the first question.

“NRAP is a place where you can feel accepted. It’s a place for you to feel loved. And it’s a place to really begin to experience college in a way that’s gonna be good for you.” Daniel Fred has been working as the project coordinator for the Nevada Recovery and Prevention program, NRAP, since 2011 when he started as a graduate student. After graduating from Texas Tech, Daniel wanted to return back to Reno and start something for the school that he fell away at as a way of giving back. Since the Texas Tech program helped him through his own recovery process, Daniel decided to use that program as the model for the program at UNR. Based on what is known as the community model, NRAP provides students a place where they can belong and not feel as though they had to give up their sobriety in order to experience college. Unlike other recovery programs, NRAP is predominantly run by students and student leadership.

July of 2002 marked the start of Daniel’s journey of long-term recovery. His story of addiction began when he was a freshman at the University of Nevada, Reno. After experiencing the death of one of his roommates, Daniel turned to weed and alcohol as a way to cope with the pain. Things began to slip. His GPA fell to a 1.7, he was losing jobs, and got kicked out of school. Realizing that his life in Reno was hitting a dead end, Daniel moved to Texas where he enrolled in Texas Tech. After multiple run-ins with the law, Daniel finally realized that he was not on the path he wanted to be on. He had hopes and dreams.

Admitting that trying not to relapse can be difficult at times, he continues to live a sober lifestyle because of his family, NRAP, and the spiritual program that he runs. Prayer and meditation have become important practices. With a wife and three daughters, Daniel wants to make sure that he takes care of himself so he can be a good husband and be a role model. Being around students who are trying to build a sober lifestyle and being able to give back also helps keep him inspired to continue staying sober. He says,“I just want to see students live up to their dreams.”

Starting the process of recovery is usually the hardest part for someone who is experiencing an addiction or even someone who doesn’t want to take the steps towards recovery. For those who are trying to become sober, Daniel says, “It starts with having the right resources.” There is an ugliness to addiction. People begin to make bad decisions and bad mistakes and they start to carry around this sense of shame. Daniel strongly believes, “The most powerful thing you can do is remind them of who they are.” Daniel also says, “Remind them of their dreams and how capable they are.” They will begin to dissociate themselves from the person they think they are while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

As the interview was wrapping up, you could see that Daniel could spend hours talking about his journey of addiction and recovery as well as his work with NRAP. Courtney and I walked away feeling even more curious and wanted to ask more questions. Daniel told us that we should look into taking the class that he teaches.