MEET OUR TEAM
Our Sober Living Team Lives Recovery Every Day
Meet the sober living team behind the dream. Real Recovery began with a mission to raise the bar in structured sober living. Our founders built the program they wish existed when they were searching for their own recovery. Everyone at Real Recovery today shares this same vision.
Zachary Miller, BS, CSARFD, CSAC
Residential and IOP Services
Zach was the first client to walk through Real Recovery’s doors in 2009. He experienced problems with drugs and alcohol throughout his childhood and at 17, he joined the US Coast Guard as a way to run away from his issues. While there, Zach studied Finance and worked at the US Coast Guard Finance Center. However, after completing four years in the Coast Guard, he realized that his issues with addiction were still present. He went through multiple treatments until he found himself in Asheville, NC, where he met Real Recovery’s founder at a local 12-step meeting. From that moment, he knew his calling was to help others.
After five months of being sober, Zach started working at a behavior wilderness program for troubled adolescents, where he learned that life was the greatest classroom. This led him to take a job as a senior guide at one of the top adult wilderness rehabs. Zach obtained his CSAC (Certified Substance Abuse Counselor) in 2013 and has graduated with a BS. He is currently enrolled in his second year at Wake Forest University in their clinical mental health counseling master’s program. Zach joined the sober living team as the Program Director, meaning he oversees all Real Recovery programs, including traditional, MAT Program and outpatient services. He views the main responsibility of his position as creating a safe and fun environment for young men striving for sobriety that is supported by clinical services through continuity of care.
National Clinical Liaison
Justin McCue was the third client to come to Real Recovery after completing treatment in Asheville, NC. After struggling with drugs and alcohol for years Justin knew he needed to find a life worth living in sobriety and Real Recovery helped him find it.
After successfully completing his aftercare at Real Recovery, Justin went on to be a Director of a local financial firm. He completed his MBA at Lenoir-Rhyne and felt that his career didn’t align with his true calling. Having always been a part of Real Recovery since inception he knew that his true calling was to help give back to others struggling with drugs and alcohol as he did. His role at Real Recovery is multifaceted covering business development, marketing and admissions.
Peter Godfrey, LCSW, LCAS
Peter Godfrey possesses a rich work history with substance use disorders, mental health and agency management. He strongly prefers a genuine approach to therapy working as a helper first. Using a systematic process of discovery, focusing on successes, he collaborates with his clients to find strategies that work well to create a healthy lifestyle. He prefers measurable and observable recovery goals that are as “real” as possible.
He received his education from Western Carolina University in the Social Work discipline. He has been working with at-risk populations since 1998, and in the clinical setting for nine years. He brings significant experience in diverse settings such as wilderness therapy, family, court-ordered, child protective services. His therapy clientele has represented the entire spectrum of mental health and substance use disorders. He has a specialization in experiential therapeutic activities that challenge an individual to confront feelings and thoughts that are congruent to those that they will face in recovery.
Peter is originally from Fort Pierce, Florida although he has been in the western NC for about 15 years. He enjoys backcountry sports and being a father of a small child. Peter utilizes his personal life story in his clinical work when appropriate, but in measured amounts. He is a helper in the truest sense; service to others is a lifestyle that he embraces.
Ashley Butawan, LPC, LCAS
Through years of helping others of varying backgrounds and personal experiences, Ashley developed the basic belief that informs her practice: that human beings are all just trying to feel “okay.” By first acknowledging how past pains and struggles inform how we've learned to navigate the world, she challenges individuals to recognize their patterns and empower them to “do something different.” Working in the here-and-now, she directs attention to the what’s happening in the moment in order to do “real” work to address patterns as they arise. The ultimate hope is to help individuals to be more authentic in their everyday lives—being able to choose intentionally how they want to be, rather than continuously falling back on that which is comfortable and familiar.
Ashley grew up in St. Louis, MO, eventually transitioning to Memphis, TN, and working her way to North Carolina. After college she began working as an AmeriCorps member, assisting low-SES children and families in rural NC. She was first exposed to mental health and trauma work while working at various residential treatments for at-risk youth, which further sparked interest in how she could be of greater help to others.
She attended and graduated from Appalachian State University with a M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a focus on Addictions Counseling. She is trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing through EMDRIA and has undergone training through the Appalachian Gestalt Therapy Institute, contributing to a trauma-informed and mindfulness/awareness-based approach.
Ashley Garner, LCSW, LCAS-A
Intake Clinician/Managed Care Coordinator
Ashley is originally from Asheboro, NC where she graduated with a degree in Photojournalism in 2008, working as a staff photographer in NC until 2010. Ashley enjoyed advocating for others through photography and felt honored to document every day challenges and successes through photography, but was left with a desire to become more involved with working with others.
Recognizing the desire work directly with others, she moved to Asheville, NC in 2010 to further her education in the field of social work. In 2014, she graduated with her BSW from Mars Hill University and in 2015, she graduated from East Tennessee State University with her MSW. Ashley brings a variety of experience from her training and work experience, including policy and program development regarding substance abuse and mental health treatment while at SAMHSA in Rockville, MD. She also received training at an inpatient psychiatric setting, providing group therapy, individual therapy, and case management for ages 4+.
Ashley has worked in an outpatient setting since 2015 in rural WNC and in Asheville, NC providing direct care across the lifespan. She approaches therapy with a focus on relationships, how to build healthy connections with others, and working with clients to find a meaningful direction in life. Ashley also incorporates her own personal recovery experiences into working with others, when appropriate. She utilizes a variety of approaches when working with others, primarily incorporating Acceptance and Commitment therapy. Ashley has many roles at Real Recovery, which include meeting with all new clients for intakes, community referrals, individual therapy, coordinating discharges, tracking data outcomes for Real Recovery, and working directly with insurance carriers. When she is not in the office, she spends her time at flea markets, photographing WNC, eating cheap Mexican food, and raising a toddler.
Caroline Pegram, LCSWA, LCAS
Caroline Pegram is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (Associate) and a Licensed Clinical Addiction Specialist. Caroline completed her graduate studies at UNC Chapel Hill and has had the great fortune of applying both her educational studies and personal recovery experiences in her therapeutic practice. Caroline is currently working to become a Trauma Sensitive Yoga facilitator through the Trauma Center in Boston, MA and is excited about offering a “bottom up” style of healing from adverse experiences.
Caroline believes that everyone is seeking a life they believe is worth living. Her passion is in helping others to feel more empowered in that journey. Caroline practices primarily from a mindfulness based perspective, while embracing the power of human connection. Though Caroline also pulls from a variety of different evidence based therapies, one consistent piece you will find in working with her is a holistic, humanistic and strength based approach to recovery. Caroline recognizes human relationships as the most important piece of healing and is intentional in teaming up with individuals to embrace the innate strengths that they possess when they walk in the door.
Caroline is a North Carolina native and loves living in the Appalachian Mountains. In Caroline’s down time, she enjoys hiking in the back country and developing a personal yoga practice. Caroline is an advocate for incorporating nature into a healthy lifestyle and often finds ways to intertwine her love of nature with her everyday life.
George Mattfeld was born in Voorheesville, NY and is the youngest of six children. His father was a wildlife biologist who shared his love and respect for the outdoors with all of his children. His passion led George to attend North Country Community College, in the heart of Adirondack Mountains, where he majored in Wilderness Recreation and Outdoor Leadership.
After college, George’s drug addiction took complete control and almost cost him his life on several occasions. Knowing something had to change, he moved to South Florida and has devoted the last four years of his life to staying sober and helping other alcoholics and drug addicts. This devotion to helping others and his love of the outdoors eventually landed him in Asheville working with the sober living team at Real Recovery.
Cameron Cann moved to Asheville in Spring of 2016 in search of a fresh start in his recovery. A native of Virginia, Cameron grew up with a love for the Appalachian Mountains and the Chesapeake Bay. During his last semester of college, Cameron’s addiction led him to seek help in a Wilderness Therapy program in Utah. Finding relief in the wilderness and thinking his problems were solved, he went back to school with a plan of staying sober. After graduating with a degree in Finance from Wofford College, Cameron moved to Colorado in hopes of finding continued recovery. His substance abuse issues began to spiral out of control again as he found a job at a financial firm in Denver. On the verge of losing his job because of opiate use, he sought out a doctor and began MAT treatment. Without the help of a structured environment, it was increasingly difficult to take his medication as prescribed and make any true progress through the 12 steps. He hit a point of desperation after two more years of trying to do things his own way, and was referred to Real Recovery by a friend. Real Recovery showed him a life worth living and reframed his perspective on sobriety. Cameron found that the therapeutic structured environment offered him the support to thrive.
He has a passion for helping others through outdoor recreation and is engaged in the AA community. Cameron usually spends his spare time out in Pisgah National Forest riding his bike or trail running, and enjoys seeing live music around town.
Men's House Manager
Spencer has been working in the field of addiction for over 2 years. He was born in Virginia Beach, Virginia and had his own struggles with addiction growing up. He moved to Asheville in 2014 to start his journey in recovery and has found a passion in helping others.
He is an avid rock climber and loves to share the experience with others, along with his experience on the 12 steps of recovery which he has completed 3 times over. Today Spencer sponsors other men, treats those he meets with compassion and empathy and is always willing to meet someone where they are at.
Men's House Manager
Drew Fabso was born and raised in Stratford, Connecticut. The middle child to an older brother and younger sister, Drew lived a fairly normal childhood. He grew up playing all types of sports and continued playing throughout high school and even college. Drew went to Central Connecticut State University after maintaining above average grades throughout high school.
Always a casual drinker, college was really where his addiction and drinking really became an issue. It started with just experimenting with marijuana and pharmaceuticals. After little time he was fully addicted to opiates, cocaine, benzodiazepines, and alcohol. His addiction eventually led to him dropping out of college and moving back home, which is when his life really spun out of control. After trying everything from drug counseling to inpatient rehab, Drew realized he needed much more. Through all the detoxes, IOP’s, and halfway houses back in Connecticut, he was never able to stay sober for more than a month at a time. After hitting an emotional rock bottom and realizing he never wanted to cause this much harm to his family, friends, loved ones, and most importantly himself ever again, Drew made the life changing decision to move to Asheville. It was there Drew found some lasting sobriety and happiness.
Today Drew is active in the AA community, going to meetings and working with a sponsor, and enjoys any chance he can get to help fellow addicts. At Real Recovery, you can find Drew doing anything from helping guys get jobs to taking them to local golf courses for 18 holes.
Men's House Manager
Wesley Culpepper was born and raised in Columbus, GA. He grew up with a loving family and had dreams of playing golf in college. His dreams and aspirations took a backseat when he began using drugs and alcohol at the age of fifteen. By the time he graduated from high school he was drinking and using drugs daily. At the age of nineteen he was in his first treatment center. He spent the majority of his twenties in treatment or in active addiction. After almost losing his life on several occasions he found himself at Real Recovery where he quickly learned that it was possible to live a life without drugs and alcohol.
While at Real his outlook on life changed and when the opportunity to give back to the program that saved his life was given to him he didn’t think twice. He now spends his time helping others work through the same problems he has experienced throughout his life.
Men's House Manager
Charles Brown Jr (Chad) was born in Wilmington, Delaware to a wonderful mother and father and is the eldest of 4 children. Chad began experimenting with alcohol and drugs in high school, damaging his scholastic and athletic performance in a significant way. Chad graduated from high school in 2006.
In college, Chad's alcoholism and drug use progressed in nature, causing long periods of isolation and depression. In 2010, Chad graduated with a Bachelor's Degree from Franklin and Marshall, double-majoring in Business and Government. He was hired as a digital marketing analyst at Chase Bank in Wilmington, Delaware. Despite financial security and a promising future, Chad left the company after 4 years following a DUI car accident. At that point, he had completely lost control of his life to drugs and alcohol and the future looked bleak. Despite starting his own web design business and avoiding the use of alcohol for a couple years following the accident, Chad became fully dependent on benzodiazepines and amphetamines, reaching new heights of mental and financial instability that led to inpatient treatment, hospitals, and detox centers for 4 years. Chad no longer felt happiness was possible and that his life had been ruined through his decisions and behavior. After a long period of reckless drug and alcohol abuse, Chad had reached his bottom and had lost everything besides his family. He attended inpatient treatment in Asheville, North Carolina and was referred to Equinox Recovery for subsequent care.
When Chad arrived at the house, he had regained a small degree of hope for the future but realized he needed to make significant changes to regain happiness. He stayed at Equinox house for a full year, working with a sponsor, exercising regularly, taking advice from the staff, and establishing a genuine connection with the recovery community. For the first time in over 12 years, Chad lives a life free of alcohol and drugs and has regained a sense of hope and happiness.
Women's House Manager
Kelsey was raised in Memphis, TN. She grew up very involved in sports, Girl Scouts and the community. Kelsey’s alcohol and drug abuse started in high school and progressed until she graduated with her degree in speech language pathology. Her love for helping others was her main goal until the addiction took over everything she loved and enjoyed. Kelsey went to treatment and knew that sober living was the key to the next step in her recovery. She moved to Asheville, motivated to make a change and start over. Moving to Asheville and starting a new life was the best decision she ever made. Kelsey has been working in the field of recovery and helping other women find a new way to live for over a year and she wouldn’t change a thing about it. She loves to empower and motivate fellow women in recovery.
James Bashaw, CSAC
Partial Hospitalization Program Clinician
James was born on a farm outside of a small town in southeastern Wisconsin. During high school and college he began to struggle with drugs and alcohol. Eventually this lead to admittance to several substance abuse programs. While getting sober, a few staff members had a profound affect on him in their eagerness to help struggling addicts.
After moving to Asheville, James began working at a wilderness treatment program in the area where he got his start in substance abuse. While there he started work on his Certified Substance Abuse Counselor (CSAC) credential. James started as a House Manager with Real Recovery, but moved to Program Assistant in 2017. He now has his CSAC credential and is looking to go back to school and pursue a master’s level clinical education.
Mat was born and raised in Florida. Though excelling in school and athletics in his youth, he developed a drug and alcohol problem early on. His dream was to go into the military, but he continued to find himself in jails or institutions. After being in and out of many rehabs and substance abuse programs, he discovered Real Recovery. Though he loved where he was from, he took the chance and packed up and moved. He fell in love with the fellowship and camaraderie that Real had to offer. After feeling so hopeless, he soon found himself with multiple years sober and a productive member of society. He then jumped at the opportunity to work for the sober living team that helped save his life. He now strives to better himself each day, and give this same opportunity to the new clients that walk through these doors.
Men's Program Assistant
Having worked in education to help students prosper academically, Douglas McDaniel wanted to bring the same spirit to males in the world of recovery. With two decades of personal growth in the areas of sobriety and mental illness management, he brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to those beginning their own journey towards inner peace and contentment.
Utilizing not only the 12 Step program and one on one therapy, Douglas also runs, hikes, and road bikes in order to find a greater sense of happiness, spiritual connection, and emotional balance.
Men's Program Assistant
TJ Merkiel was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. Throughout high school, TJ excelled in sports, specifically football and wrestling. He started experimenting with drugs and alcohol early on and it progressively became worse throughout high school, affecting his athletic programs and academics. TJ attended college at The University of Akron which is where his drug and alcohol abuse started to get out of hand and his life started to spiral out of control. Before long, TJ was addicted to opiates and desperately needed help. This began a long road of drug related arrests and multiple inpatient and outpatient treatment centers. TJ struggled to stay clean until he hit rock bottom and had no choice but to either turn his life around or die from drug addiction. He chose to enter inpatient rehab in Asheville, North Carolina. During treatment, TJ was referred to Real Recovery. While at Real Recovery, TJ was able to build a strong foundation in sobriety and build relationships with people that supported his journey. TJ is currently working on his Certified Substance Abuse Counselor (CSAC) certification while working full time for Real Recovery. TJ has a strong passion for giving back to the program that has given so much to him. He takes pride in his ability to relate to other young men and help lead them out of the same dark place he was once in.
Hi I’m Boomer and I love living at Real Recovery. My favorite activities include chasing my sister Pepper around and snuggling up with clients on the couch. I enjoy hiking with all the guys and swimming at Triple Falls. My sister and I will soon become Certified Therapy Dogs once we’re old enough.
Hi I’m Pepper and I live at Real Recovery with my brother and lots of fun guys. I can be a little shy, but once I get to know you I’m very loyal and won’t leave your side. I love chasing tennis balls and playing with clients. Sometimes I get to go hiking in Pisgah forest and have fun exploring all the awesome trails. My favorite part about Real Recovery is all of the belly rubs.