Stan Moffett has a deep thirst for life. He gives freely of his time, volunteering his energies to a number of causes. He has served on Sound’s volunteer board of directors, including serving as its vice chair and then, as its board chair before retiring from the board in late 2018. He is also one of Sound’s earliest Circle of Compassion members, a distinction given to individuals who donate $1,000 or more to the organization. When Stan isn’t volunteering for environmental causes, tutoring immigrant children, providing companionship for hospice patients or spending time with his family, he and his wife Maggie eagerly explore all the world has to offer through frequent international travels.
To the casual observer, it’s easy to say that Stan is living the good life. But it wasn’t always this way for the retired corporate human resources professional.
“Today I love life. I feel really lucky. But,” he reflects, “I shouldn’t even be here.”
Stan’s journey, one of addiction and of resilience, began in the mid-60s. Abrupt and devastating personal discoveries—personal matters that turned his world upside down—upended Stan’s life. The pain was so deep, so profuse that
he turned to what he calls the “warming, comforting effects” of Demerol, a synthetic opioid pain medication.
Thus began 30 years of what he calls a “monstrous struggle” with Demerol, heroin and morphine. The dependency became so great that any type of emotional setback would trigger use, even though he held down a demanding corporate job and seemed to function fully and productively.
“I was fearful about accessing help through my employer due to the stigma of being a ‘junkie’ and the anticipated backlash,” he recalled later in a Seattle Times article detailing his struggle.
Stan tried intermittently, yet unsuccessfully, to kick his addiction, even seeking out Sound (it was Sound Mental Health Institute at the time) in the 80s, for support.
While it was emotional pain that led him to turn to opioids in the first place, it was also emotional pain that led to his decision to quit—the pain and emotional devastation that he witnessed in his wife, Maggie.
“It just killed me that this was one of the effects of my drug addiction—the impact on her,” he confesses. “That was the impetus for me to finally get clean after so many failed attempts—when I saw how this was bringing her down. Her support and willingness to stay with me was really powerful.”
The comfort of knowing that someone loved him was galvanizing.
“I still felt that I was worth something,” he explains. “There were times I was shocked she was still with me.”
Years later, and having been clean for 15 years, Stan would again cross paths with Sound. Invited to attend as a guest at Sound’s annual gala, Mental Health Matters, Stan was deeply touched by a story shared by a Sound client in 2010.
“I literally was crying,” he says. “Because I’m thinking, ‘that’s my story.’ I tried to wipe away my tears and asked my table host, who was board chair at the time, ‘How can I get involved with this organization?’”
A short time later, Stan was invited to serve on Sound’s board, where he remained until 2018. Highlights of his time on the board included serving as the board chair from 2016 to 2018 and, in a significant step, publically sharing his story, through an opinion piece in the Seattle Times and on KING television in 2016. He believed it was the right thing to do.
Sure, it was personally risky, but Stan felt it was worth sharing his story, if only because of community perceptions about opioid addiction.
“I’m the face of another contingency of addicted people,” he says today. “Having had a decent job for many years, decent family life, I look clean-cut, I’m not homeless. So I’m a face of the addiction that doesn’t come readily to mind. I’m proof that it can happen to anyone.”
Before he retired from the Sound board, Stan’s history of giving to Sound was punctuated with recognition as a member of Sound’s Circle of Compassion. Circle
of Compassion is a new program created by Sound’s Development Department to promote a sense of community for members that have made an annual donation of $1,000 or more over the course of a year. He believes strongly that the program is vital.
“We need philanthropy,” he emphasizes. “We must have additional funding sources beyond public dollars to enable us to provide effective and innovative whole health care for the people and community we serve. The Circle also has the potential to draw community members into the heart of solving our dilemma with behavioral health and substance abuse issues.”
As Stan Moffett reflects upon his past years of struggling with addiction, of serving on Sound’s board, as a dedicated and generous donor, as a man willing to open
his life up to others and share his story, his message is one of a future. A future, he believes, is based on hope and resilience.
“Hope and resilience are incredibly simple words…” he notes. “When you don’t have hope, you’re easily attracted to something that’s going to take that fear away.”
“So, in resilience there’s hope and there’s the power of positive thinking, and in never giving up trying to escape that prison.”