At the age of sixteen, I started experimenting with marijuana and alcohol and continued to use throughout my twenties. By my early thirties, cocaine had taken over my life. My marriage fell apart, I was separated from my children, and I was stealing money from friends, family, and strangers to support my addiction. Everything I thought was important took a back seat to my drug use. I went from being a well-respected, trustworthy person to burning bridges with my lies, deceit, and secrecy.
Still, I thought I was in control, unable to recognize that my drug use was slowly killing me and putting me in and out of jail. Whenever I thought I’d hit a low point, my life would only get progressively worse. In January 2008, I was facing up to four years in prison. I realized that unless I got help, I would end up in jail for the rest of my life—or dead. I entered treatment at Phoenix House of Hauppauge in March 2008.
During my initial group meeting, I sat down with other clients in a safe, comfortable environment. For the first time in a long time, I was honest with myself and with everyone around me. I broke down, cried, and asked for help, as I had no one else to turn to. I felt humiliated, embarrassed, and scared—but relieved. The staff and residents at Phoenix House helped me pick myself up and to realize that I could turn my life around.
I completed my treatment in November 2008 and was hired as a cook at the Phoenix House Academy of East Hampton. Three months later, I received a scholarship to get CASAC-T certified and was later hired as a counselor at the Phoenix House of East Hampton. Phoenix House helped me get my life back and now, I give back by helping others who are struggling with addiction.