Chris Bortolazzo of Newnan will appear in the “Georgia Recovers” campaign and had the opportunity to attend the campaign’s debut at the state capital on June 5.
Georgia Recovers is a public service campaign sponsored by the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse to erase the stigma of drug addiction in Georgia, according to Bortolazzo.
Bortolazzo said he will be featured on a billboard along with the phrase “I am one of those people.”
“The reason I chose that slogan and why those words are so important to me is because I don’t have the same story as everyone else,” he said.
Bortolazzo said he has been clean for more than six years after he almost died from an overdose.
He said he wants other people to know that not everyone who is dealing with addiction has to follow a pattern of arrest, losing a job or becoming homeless. In fact, he said he was doing pretty well for himself the last year that he was using drugs.
Bortolazzo said he hopes the slogan he chose will help people realize that they don’t have to go through a cycle of consequences before they get help.
“I don’t choose so much to focus on the past. I choose to focus on the now,” Bortolazzo said.
Currently, he works at a treatment center in Cobb County and advocates for those who are struggling to get help. Bortolazzo estimates that he has helped 20 to 23 people under the age of 25 get clean.
“We’re basically advocating for people who feel like they don’t have a voice, that feel like there is nowhere to go,” Bortolazzo said.
Bortolazzo is also a Certified Addiction Recovery Empowerment Specialist (CARES), which is a peer support program created by the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse.
Botolazzo thinks the billboard with his face on it means that he doesn’t have to be afraid of admitting that he is someone in long-term recovery.
“People look at me, and they’ll look at those billboards and say, ‘Oh wow, you’re doing really great.’ No, I have the same struggles,” said Bortolazzo.
He said he hopes having his billboard up in Newnan will encourage people to find him and reach out to him if they need help.
Bortolazzo also said that it is important to him that he teaches his kids how to take care of themselves and what to do if they ever need help.
“It’s very important to me that I live a transparent life and that they know this is where dad goes, he goes to these meetings,” he said.
Bortolazzo’s kids have gone with him to anonymous meetings before, and he said it’s important for them to know there’s a place they can go.
Bortolazzo also said he urges those who are struggling with addiction to reach out online or attend an anonymous meeting.
“If we save one person’s life because of this program, because of this initiative, it’s been worth it,” he said.