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Unpacking Perfect: Vic Vela

Vic recently sat down with 9NEWS and Unpacking Perfect to share his story of mental wellness, and how he has pushed aside the ideals of perfection.

COLORADO, USA — “One day at a time has saved my life.” For some, the journey of alcohol and drug dependence is a daily struggle to look past that single moment of decision to escape. But for Vic Vela, his battle to conquer addiction has become a noteworthy inspiration through his podcast, Back from Broken. 

As a small-town kid in Colorado, Vela discovered hardships early on realizing at a young age he was gay and had no outlet present to be able to be himself. Because of this he always felt like an outsider in school, and he started resorting to drugs and alcohol as he puts it, “as a way to soothe the savage beast.”

Though Vela’s dependence on crack cocaine continued, he was able to create a successful career for himself as a journalist, earning multiple degrees, and awards and even a membership of the Colorado Capitol Press Corps covering the legislative session. Eventually, he landed a career as a news and podcast host for Colorado Public Radio. Though he became an accredited professional in his field of work, Vela found ways to get his fix behind a dumpster across the street from the news station still in his suit and tie.

He was diagnosed as HIV-positive in 2006. Doctors told him as long as he continued taking his medication he would be okay, and even still the stranglehold of addiction was constant. In 2015 Vela finally hit rock bottom and had the courage to reach out to his first-ever sponsor for help. He helped him find a meeting to attend the very next day and he has been sober ever since.

“There’s a difference between sobriety and recovery. You could tie yourself to a radiator and get sober but that does not mean you’re recovered, because recovery is the hard part… I have almost 8 years of recovery because I have an accumulative of one day at a time,” he said.

Vic Vela sat down with 9NEWS and Unpacking Perfect to share his story of mental wellness on how he pushed aside the ideals of perfection, gave up the chase, and learned a better way of living.

Unpacking Perfect is a sponsored series about the human chase for perfection being produced by 9NEWS in partnership with Aurora Mental Health & Recovery. The series is about self-worth, and both the comforts and perils of comparison. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. This series looks at people coming to terms with the idea of perfection, the realities of imperfection, and learning to find strength from it all.

Now his story and more can encourage so many people dealing with similar mental health challenges through his weekly podcast. It is an interview series surrounding the journey of overcoming life’s greatest challenges and how others can learn from these comeback testaments.

“Progress not perfection… You’re just constantly causing yourself suffering with this idea of striving for perfection, but progress is something that I can do.”


Aurora Mental Health & Recovery Centers offers services to address a wide range of mental health conditions. Individuals and families rely on us to help them cope with a variety of challenges. Our staff of physicians, nurses, psychologists, therapists, and peers works with all age groups, from children to seniors.

The staff starts by getting to know you so they can accurately assess your needs. From there they connect you with counseling, classes, and other services that can help you achieve optimal mental health. When you’re looking for assistance in managing a mental illness, reaching out is typically the hardest step.

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