Christine Perez-Gray has been the Case Manager at Cornerstone Recovery Center, a drug treatment center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, since it opened in 2012. Having been born and raised in Miami, FL, Christine is very familiar with South Florida’s myriad addiction problems. As such, she brings a unique passion and dedication to helping others recover from drug and alcohol addiction that naturally comes with having roots in the community.
Like many people in the field of addiction treatment, Christine found that her dedication to helping others originated in her own battles with drug and alcohol addiction. She also discovered that her first love–the culinary arts–provided a perfect early education for her work in the recovery industry. With a degree in Culinary Arts/Hospitality Management, the role she played in serving others has translated perfectly into her current position at Cornerstone.
“My love of serving people has helped me out a tremendous deal in the treatment industry,” says Christine. “As a case manager, I assist people with anything that has to do with community resources. The staff at Cornerstone really trusts me and sets realistic expectations that allows me to do my job well.”
A Career in Drug Treatment
The thing that led Christine out of the hospitality management industry was also one of the main motivations she had in getting sober: the desire to have a loving, healthy family. “In the food service industry, I had to work some crazy hours. You don’t really have a life. As a mom and as a person in recovery, I wanted to have a life.” So when the opportunity came to switch careers into the recovery industry, she jumped at the chance.
A friend at a local treatment center offered her the opportunity to be her medical assistant. Even though Christine didn’t have the training for the job, her love of people and penchant for giving good customer service helped her to succeed. During that time, she met her husband, who was also working there. She credits the opportunity as a life changing experience, and allowed her to live her dream of having a house and a kid and “all that good stuff that comes with recovery.”
Now, she uses what she learned about becoming a productive member of society and passes that knowledge on to people who come to Cornerstone for recovery. “I help people find a way back into society, have a voice, and feel confident that certain ‘grown up’ issues are not so difficult to deal with. I teach them how to use community resources, use the computer, build a resume, apply for a job, shop for nutritious foods, and act the part so they can make it out there. Simple things like paying their bills, budgeting their finances, treating others properly, applying for assistance within their community… these are things that a lot people in early recovery often have to be taught, because the way they lived their lives, these things were never priorities for them.”
A Past of Drug Abuse
Many people who experience drug and alcohol addiction often start their habits at a very early age, and Christine was no exception. “I began a sex, drugs, and rock & roll lifestyle when I was just 13 years old,” she said.
It didn’t take long to realize that her wild ways were not going to result in the type of life that she wanted for herself, and she ended up seeking treatment and getting sober at an early age – right in her hometown of Miami. Many times, it is recommended that a person travel outside of the area where the disease of addiction sets in, so as to remove oneself from the temptations and influences that will always be present in one’s hometown. Christine proved to be that rare exception to the rule.
“I got clean right in Miami, which proves that it is possible to use and get clean where your stomping ground was,” she said, although she has since helped many people at Cornerstone Recover Center who came from areas outside of South Florida, such as New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Ohio. One advantage of staying local is that she was given all the support she needed from her family. “My mother and immediate family are my greatest supporters. They never EVER gave up on me. Although at times they were frustrated and depleted emotionally, they always asked God and helped one another to try to redirect me onto the right path of life.”
Many times, the person who can most effectively help those in recovery are the people who have walked the path of addictions themselves, and Christine is a shining example of that reality. When she helps recovering addicts re-enter society, she does so with the one tool for which there is no substitute: experience.
Get Drug & Alcohol Rehab
If you are facing or know of someone facing drug or alcohol addiction, whether you’re in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania or any northeastern state, do not give up. The staff at Cornerstone Recovery Center in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, serves to help clients from all over the country get their life back on track as soon as possible. To learn more about Cornerstone’s drug treatment services, call 954-0271-2846 or submit an online contact form.