A distinguished scholar, Dr. Hernandez is known for improving addiction recovery services for America’s Latino and Hispanic populations. It was his own triumph over heroin and cocaine addiction – and a dangerous past as a street gang leader– that drove Hernandez to empower others.

“We have to believe in people more than they believe in themselve!,” Hernandez says. “This can be scary for some, yet rewarding at the same time. I believe everyone has the potential to recover and no one does it on their own. My role is to be of help in that process or to get out of the way.”

What I lost to addiction:
I went to prison! My first arrest was when I was 11 and my last arrest was in 1986. This experience impacted all of my relationships, including family, friends, and relationship with community.

What worked for me:
I went to a Therapeutic Community, Casa Don Pedro Albizu Campos, in Boston. The program was designed for Latino males. All the staff were Latino and understood addiction and recovery very well. I was in individual counseling, groups, and engaged in the recovery community. Having great mentors has worked for me. These include people in recovery and allies.

Rules I live by:
Recovery requires every day work. I seek out mentors and provide mentoring to others. Treat people with dignity and respect.
Education is not about degrees or credentials; education is about how you treat yourself and others. Some of the most educated people I know don’t have any degrees or credentials, yet they have the ability to connect with others utilizing respect, empathy, and a sense of humanity.

I get inspired by:
The thousands of people in recovery and their families whom I have met across the country and other parts of the world. I am most inspired by Latinos and Hispanics who serve as role models to me on a daily basis. This includes people in short and long term recovery.

Haner Hernandez is a man in long term recovery and a member of MOAR's Advisory Board. He is also Director of Workforce Development and Cultural Competency & Senior Consultant with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health – Bureau of Substance Addiction Services, a Certified Prevention Specialist (CPS), certified and licensed alcohol and drug counselor (CADCII, LADCI).