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Counting the stats that matter: NFL Hall-of-Famer Carter shares recovery story at Launch to Life Benefit

Carter’s journey to lasting recovery began with news that he was out of a job after the 1989 season.

Cris Carter knows the stats that define his pro football Hall of Fame career by heart: 16 years, 130 touchdowns, almost 14,000 yards, and at least one memorable dream-ending catch against the Chicago Bears.

Yet, the most significant number is this: 31 years and one month sober—and counting.

“It has been the fight of my life, but it’s the greatest thing I have done,” he said. “Whatever anyone says about you, you can overcome it.”

Carter shared his story of recovery from alcohol and cocaine addiction with supporters and friends of Rosecrance Chicagoland services at the annual Launch to Life Benefit on October 28. Hosted at the JW Marriott Chicago, the event was little more than a mile from Soldier Field, where he frequently faced the Bears throughout his career.

Carter’s journey to lasting recovery began with news that he was out of a job after the 1989 season. After three failed drug tests, and a fourth meaning a suspension from the National Football League, he needed help.

Fortunately, he found an opportunity with the Minnesota Vikings, where a substance use counselor helped him develop a plan for sobriety. Carter connected with the 12-Step community, a sponsor, and several group meetings for support. Three decades later, Carter continues with the same counselor and stays connected to group meetings.

“There is hope,” Carter said. “Let me tell you the truth: we do get better. We do go on to do great things. We do become responsible human beings and great citizens of this great country.”

Joe, an alum of the sober living residence at Rosecrance Lakeview, personalized his experience with his story of recovery that started with Rosecrance.

Joe found Rosecrance after trying different programs to overcome mental health and substance use disorders. When he entered inpatient treatment at the Rosecrance Harrison Campus, he was ready to do the work to make recovery last. Following the stay, Joe spent 15 months at Rosecrance Lakeview, where he developed close connections with staff as he worked his recovery plan and built a support network in the city.

Now, Joe is pursuing a finance career while actively mentoring peers in 12 Step programs. He also is coaching youth basketball.

“I’m doing things for others, and I’m helping myself by doing that,” he said. “My biggest reward is being there for my loved ones and being available for events like this.”

Rosecrance President and CEO Dave Gomel, Ph.D. expressed his gratitude for the impact Rosecrance makes every day at its locations throughout the Midwest.

“We transform lives every day, and I’m so grateful for the lives that are transformed,” he said. “Each year, we get to help people who are sick, broken, and without hope. Here, we are leaders of recovery and champions of hope.”

Last year, Rosecrance served nearly 50,000 individuals in Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin and provided charity support for nearly 400 families to reduce financial barriers to care. Events like the Launch to Life Benefit help Rosecrance continue to meet the needs of more families who seek services and strengthen the organization to develop innovative programs to meet the behavioral health needs of communities.

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