Donald McDonald, Recovery

Donald McDonald is a person thriving in sustained recovery from severe mental and substance use disorders since 2004. Donald calls himself  a Recovery Activist, because he understands that people experiencing mental and substance use disorders face discriminatory barriers to  freedom and wellness—that the Recovery Movement is a civil rights movement.

He leverages his recovery status along with his privilege  and clinical knowledge about substance use disorders, policy advocacy, and systems change to help vulnerable and underserved communities create innovative programs and embrace many pathways of recovery.

His background includes being a consumer of services, a provider of clinical services in multiple settings, a health policy advocate, and a  Recovery Community leader. Previously, Donald served as the National Field Director of Faces & Voices of Recovery, the Executive Director of Addiction Professionals of North Carolina, and the Director of Advocacy & Education of Recovery Communities of North Carolina.

Most recently, Donald’s work has been directing national technical assistance. Leveraging federal funding, he has spent the last several  years helping vulnerable communities to enhance their prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery infrastructures in response to the overdose crisis. Donald volunteers on multiple boards, committees, and national campaigns as the Recovery Support Services subject  matter expert and voice of lived experience.

He serves on the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Alcohol, Tobacco, & Other Drugs (ATOD) committee, where he has published  articles on stigma elimination and recovery activism.

He presents his original trainings, Using Evidence-Based Stigma Elimination Techniques  and Addiction to Activism: Recovery is the Thing , at statewide and national conferences at home and abroad.

He also enjoys training first  responders, behavioral health service providers, medical professionals, and communities how to identify and address stigma and  discrimination. Videos of his presentations and webinars can be found at

Donald is a United States Navy war veteran and former high school and preschool teacher.  He holds a Bachelor of Education from NC State University and a Master of Social Work from UNC Chapel Hill. Donald lives in Raleigh, NC with his wife of 25 years, Jill, in a nest emptied of  four amazing and healthy children.

Donald does not believe recovery ought to be a boring trudge. He is a musician, hiker, and avid pie lover who recovers out loud on social media. You’ll hear him say, “We get better than well. Come get you some.”

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