“My own childhood was torn apart by divorce and drug addiction. I medicated my unmet emotional needs in ways that were destructive. At the time, I did not understand what was creating the needs that were causing this destructive behavior. But with the support of school counselors, teachers, and principals who encouraged me, believed in me, and created opportunities to discover my talents and potential, I found my way in life. Now, I am driven by the conviction that every teen deserves that same support and encouragement to dream and achieve greatness.
I never imagined I would be the executive director of a nonprofit whose mission is drug prevention for teens, but every step of my personal journey has led me to this exact place. My life experiences, my educational and leadership pursuits, and the eclectic professional career I started at 16 years old have all contributed to why and how I created RIZE Prevention. But more than any of those factors, this pursuit is driven by the unmatched value I place on encouraging and empowering others to resiliently overcome their circumstances. It has made facing every challenge in establishing RIZE worth it. Every single teen we help is worth it all!
When I’m not in schools or in the office, I love spending time with my husband, two sons, and “Diggity-dog” Argo. We enjoy hiking, boating, jet skiing on the lake, and the adventure of traveling west or hitting the road for an unplanned weekend trip. I also enjoy spending my free time reading, especially about Christian theology, and cooking.”
“As a teen, I never experimented with drugs. I grew up in a home where my parents often had discussions with me about the detrimental consequences of using substances. Throughout my childhood and adolescent years, I was blessed with an amazing family, teachers, and mentors who validated and uplifted me. I was truly blessed.
While in college, I witnessed many of my classmates and friends fall into the trap of drug addiction. Most were self-medicating trauma that they experienced as children or adolescents. Today, some of these friends are survivors – proudly educating others on the truth about substance use. Others sadly lost their life to the hardest battle they ever fought – the battle against addiction.
So many of our teens try to mask their brokenness through destructive self-medication, only to realize the consequences when it is too late. I love working with our RIZE team because we save lives. Not only do we address the root cause of the substance use, we empower teens to make positive lifestyle choices so that they can be successful. We change MINDSETS, so that we can change the FUTURE.”
Anne-Harrison graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2019 with a degree in Political Science & Italian – Go Gamecocks! Having worked for the South Carolina House of Representatives and legal powerhouses such as Nexen Pruet, Anne-Harrison is no stranger to substance use legislation and public policy. When she is not working, Anne-Harrison enjoys spending time with her boyfriend Constantine and her four dogs: Luke, Boone Rocky & Bo (can you ever have too many dogs?)
“I spent thirty years in education serving as a teacher, coach and athletic administrator and the consequences of teens using drugs have been a startling reality over those years. In 2021, one of my former basketball players, who was in his mid 20’s, died from drug use. He was the fifth of my former athletes, along with two students I taught in PE class, who tragically lost their lives far too early due to drug or alcohol use. This was a wake-up call for me.
I decided to make a career change where I could become part of the solution to the rising tide of teen drug use and addiction. I realized there wasn’t a better or more important way to spend my time than to help prevent young people and their families from possibly experiencing the horrible tragedies associated with drug use and addiction. My 30 years of working with young people and their parents as an educator and coach has really prepared me for this new role with RIZE Prevention.
When I am not working, I enjoy playing golf, going on vacation with my family, and attending concerts.”
“As a child, I saw first-hand the permanent and long-reaching affects that drug addiction has, not just on the person using, but also on the families surrounding them. One of the major contributing factors of me not also falling into that lifestyle was having a strong support group around me to teach me that there were better alternatives than drugs. I have spent the entirety of my professional career helping people see their value, teaching that it does not come from drugs, or from other people. Before starting at RIZE, I was both an associate pastor as well as a youth pastor, working with people of all ages and from all walks of life. My passion is helping others reach their greatest potential.
I have an amazing wife and two energetic young boys. I love to cook, read, sit around a campfire, and the occasional video game.”
“The ONLY reason I didn’t use drugs as a teen is that people who wanted me to succeed made me aware of how drugs would prevent me from accomplishing my goals and dreams. Although it was tempting, I was made to understand that my life and my football career were far more important and valuable than using drugs. Just as I found a way to not let drugs infiltrate my life and to lean on those who wanted me to be my best, I feel it’s part of my personal journey to be part of an organization that provides mentorship to teens and pre-teens who may be in a position like I once was.
I truly want to bring awareness to the misguidance that this generation of teens is being pushed and promoted. Drug use and abuse is a HUGE problem. There’s no better way to end a crisis than to prevent it from ever starting!”
“My family and I have been through an experience that exposed me to the ways that drugs can damage not only the body of the individual but also tear at the fiber of the family itself. Fortunately, these damages to the body and strain on the family can be completely prevented by resisting drug use. I want to use my story to share with others the consequences of drug use, and the many benefits of a sober mind.
I am very passionate about helping people to understand the own mental health, and how to support healthier lifestyles in both themselves and in others. I have worked in this field for years, with experience in motivational interviewing, mentoring, equine-assisted therapy, peer support, trauma support, and teen/adult crisis support.
I love spending time with family, and friends, and training animals using positive reinforcement. My husband and I have fun singing and playing music together. I try a new recipe nearly every time I cook and enjoy sharing meals with loved ones!”
“As a young teen, I began using substances recreationally. I felt different and just wanted to be a part of something bigger then myself. I wanted to feel something greater then the natural feelings and emotions I felt myself. Growing up in the church, I felt different with the inability to meet the religious expectations. What I thought was recreational drug use carried over to my adult years after being injured during my term in the Army. The VA then put me on opiates and continued to refill them every month for 10 years. My thought process was the doctor prescribed them, so I must need them. I also thought there’s no way I am a drug addict. I’m not homeless, I come from a good family, and I have money. The disease of addiction does not discriminate. I was so wrong. Because of my inconsistent choices during these years, my wife left me. My relationship with my daughter was damaged and I was losing everything. I couldn’t be silent anymore, and I had to surrender. I had to acknowledge that even as hard as I ran from the lord, it’s only by his mercy and grace that I am alive and well to share my testimony.
Today, I feel a calling to share what I can of my story to these young adults, so they understand just how important it is to love yourself. It’s ok to feel different and certainly not abnormal. To embrace and talk about the feelings of indifference.
I love spending time with my family and friends. I get to spend my day embracing life with serenity and self love. My daughter loves me today for who I am not just because I am her daddy. It’s amazing to know that God chose me to continue on my journey for his good!”
“As a child, I was significantly impacted by my mother’s mental illness and abuse of prescription medications. I suffered from depression from an early age, and suicidal thoughts plagued my mind for years. As a young wife and mother, I knew I needed help, but I was conditioned to do things for myself.
I suppressed unpleasant feelings by being as busy as possible, overextending myself into exhaustion. I’m so thankful to my husband for supporting me to get professional help, as well as encouraging me to lean on our community.
I do not believe the journey of healing is ever over in this lifetime, but the process is so worth it.
There is so much joy to be found in healing. Over the last few years, I’ve been sharing my story with young people to offer them the hope I was given. My burden has grown for young people to have a better understanding of mental illness and healthy ways to cope.
In my free time, I enjoy going on adventures with my family or watching my children play sports. My husband and I love trying new foods, especially new cuisines. We also enjoy taking our three children hiking, camping, kayaking, and the occasional amusement park.”
“Having witnessed the devastating impact of addiction on both individuals and their families, I’m deeply committed to the mission of RIZE Prevention. My passion lies in our work, driven by the desire to prevent the heartache and challenges that teens can face when it comes to substance abuse.
While I firmly believe in the importance of prevention, I also understand that individuals may still find themselves on the path of addiction. In those moments, I’m here to offer a message of hope, to remind everyone that recovery is not only real but a gateway to a brighter future.
I consider myself truly fortunate to merge my communication skills, honed through my degree, with a profound passion for our mission at RIZE Prevention.”