Hello! My name is Cairo Eubanks, and I’m honored to be a Real Talk Brand Ambassador.
A little bit about myself: As Miss Broward County, I joined Advanced Recovery Systems as a Real Talk Brand Ambassador in 2020. I am a graduate of Cornell College from Mount Vernon, Iowa, and studied international relations with a concentration in Africana studies. In addition to serving as an ambassador, I have dedicated time to Unlocking Youth Leadership Potential and have empowered youth while living in India and Jamaica. I have also created an online leadership development curriculum called Personal and Professional Development for Future Global Leaders for the Broward County community that was endorsed by Vice Mayor Maxwell B. Chambers of Miramar. Supporting Real Talk and Advanced Recovery Systems is important to me because I truly believe that education is a tool for empowerment.
That being said, I had no idea that when I competed in my first pageant in March 2020 and received the title of Miss Broward County 2020, I would also be oﬀered an opportunity to represent Real Talk! Although I’m still new to this field, with a majority of the work that I have done focused on leadership development and cultural exchange, I have noticed the similarities between the work that is being done by Advanced Recovery Systems and the work that I enjoy doing. At the end of the day, we all believe that education (especially knowledge) is critical for empowerment.
I’ve been impressed with the resources that Advanced Recovery Systems oﬀers to our community in Florida, especially because the opioid epidemic has impacted our state. In 2017, a study conducted by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported that 19.7 million Americans aged 12 and above battled a substance use disorder. Specifically, within the State of Florida, 68% of nearly 5,000 reported drug overdoses were linked to opioids. This was absolutely shocking and new to me, and the statistics that I have read caused me to learn more about substance use treatment and recovery.
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Personal Growth as a Real Talk Brand Ambassador
So far, being a Real Talk Ambassador has challenged me to re-examine the misconceptions that the terms “addict” and “addiction” mean. In my first interview with Blake Cohen, co-founder of Next Level Recovery Systems, he introduced the diﬀerence in connotation between an “addict” and “someone who is overcoming a substance use disorder.” Prior to this interview, I understood some of the negative connotations of using the word “addict,” but he really drove the point home when he said that individuals are more than their current struggle.
Using terminology is so important because it really impacts how we perceive an individual, a situation or an event. Using the terminology of “someone who is overcoming a substance use disorder” also connotes that the person is still an individual with unique and wonderful identities that extend well beyond their current or present state. A subject matter expert in this area, Blake Cohen is a certified addictions professional through the Florida Certification Board and a certified life coach. He also has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Florida Atlantic University and is currently earning his master’s degree in leadership from Nova Southeastern University. Getting to hear his perspective on why he substitutes the word “addict” with the above terminology has influenced my own vocabulary and the way that I speak, especially when representing Real Talk as a Brand Ambassador.
As mentioned earlier, I am someone who truly enjoys learning. I identify as a lifelong learner first and foremost because there is always so much to learn. I realized that the most eﬃcient way to learn was to not only read information on the subject, but to also ask subject matter experts in this field questions. I recognized that this would provide even more resources for me to be able to grow as a Brand Ambassador, as well as to use this year to become more engaged with community leaders in the areas of substance use awareness and recovery treatment. As a result, I’ve created a project called Humans of Wellness, which is modeled after Humans of New York. I really like this concept of identifying everyday heroes who are working tirelessly to serve the community and providing resources to those who need them the most. For each subsequent interview after interviewing Blake, I decided to create blog posts using excerpts from the interviews that I do with my interviewees and to also reflect on what I learned. Being a Brand Ambassador for Real Talk has encouraged me to read more on the topics of substance use disorder and addiction.
The Future of Humans of Wellness
During my interview with Blake Cohen, he spoke passionately about his best-selling book, “I Love You More: Short Stories of Addiction, Recovery, and Loss from the Family’s Perspective,” which can be found on Amazon. He purposefully wrote this book so that it could be read eﬃciently in book clubs and recovery centers. It features diﬀerent stories told through the perspective of someone who is recovering from a substance use disorder (also known as an addiction) and the perspective of the family members who created an intervention for the person whom they love. By December, I will have finished this book and would love to share with you more information about it and the lessons I learned while reading!
I’m also happy to share that the first person I’ve highlighted for Humans of Wellness is Frank Cilurso. Frank Cilurso, vice president of marketing and operations at Principles Recovery Center in Davie, Florida, has over eight years of experience in marketing. He shared with me what it was like growing up surrounded by addiction and how he’s used his own experiences to not only empathize with children in similar situations, but also to actively engage them with programs and initiatives so that they know that they have a support network.
I look forward to sharing my reflections on this interview that was eye-opening for me! I gained so much from this impactful interview.
Definitely stay tuned for more blog posts with interviews and reflections from the knowledge I’ve gained through the project I’ve created as a Real Talk Brand Ambassador called Humans of Wellness.
Humans of Wellness was created by Cairo Eubanks (Miss Broward County 2020) to archive the chronology of interviews that she has as a brand representative of Advanced Recovery Systems Real Talk. Highlighting individuals in the field of recovery, Humans of Wellness provides excerpts from interviews Cairo has conducted, as well as the information she’s learned from these interviews. Humans of Wellness aims to use dialogue and education to be an additional resource to the community.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “2017 NSDUH Annual National Report.” September 14, 2018. Accessed January 19, 2021.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Florida: Opioid-Involved Deaths and Related Harms.” April 3, 2020. Accessed January 19, 2021.
Botticelli, Michael. “Words Matter: The Language of Addiction.” Partnership to End Addiction, June 2017. Accessed January 19, 2021.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.