I am appreciative and respectful of Mr. John Simerman’s article pointing out Mr. Todd Juluke’s hard work and courage to regain his place in society. With odds stacked against him, he has bravely taken step after step against enormous odds to reclaim his life.

The heading of the article, however, citing Juluke as an “ex-thug” does him a terrible disservice. I am in long-term recovery, which means that I have not used alcohol or drugs for more than 28 years. I am committed to recovery because it has given me new purpose and hope for the future while helping me gain stability in my life.

I am now speaking out because long-term recovery has helped me change my life for the better, and I want to make it possible for others to do the same. Juluke is not an ex-thug; he is a person in recovery. There are 23 million Americans in recovery. Recovery is about creating a better life. Juluke is so much more than an ex-thug. He is in graduate school, working two jobs, a mentor and a model for others in the community.

Cindi Lanza, LCSW, LAC

social worker, substance abuse counselor Metairie