Lake Ave Recovery’s Jack Maroney and Dr. James DiReda have been pillars in the local addiction and recovery community. Having experienced themselves, the harsh reality of addiction, they have devoted their lives to educating and guiding people towards a life full of meaning.
When given an invitation to bring their knowledge and experience to Albania, a country burdened with drug use, especially among the country’s youth, Jack and James jumped at the opportunity to take their passion for recovery overseas. Equipped with an arsenal of personal stories and NE LOJE ME DJALLIN, the Albanian version of their must-read book, The East Side of Addiction, they set off on an unknown journey and ending up making an impact larger than they ever expected. What started out as a trip to learn about the Albanian culture and gain a deeper understanding on the depth of addiction the country was facing, suddenly turned into an in-depth interview on a nationally televised talk show and headline stories of the two Americans travels in several of the country’s most popular news outlets.
Upon arriving in Albania, Jack and James felt the best way to get an appropriate understanding of the toll that drugs and alcohol was taking on the country was to fully immerse themselves in the culture and time honored traditions of the indigenous population. They spent several days making face-to-face contact with several groups and engaging in multiple conversations with members of the community in their natural environment.
The Albanian treatment community had adopted the mantra of “support, don’t punish”. A mantra that Jack and James admired as a way of lifting the individual up rather than persecuting them. They shared the universal philosophy that success could be better achieved through education and an open dialogue, not avoidance and denial.
Their work in Albania landed them many accolades from the communities they visited and on the front page of a number of Albanian national newspapers and news channels. However, the impact the Albanian people made on Jack and James felt far greater. The level of compassion and empathy healthcare workers and drug treatment providers had in their own communities is something they strive to emulate in their work today.