True Story: David R.

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

david 8x10 300dpiHeroin was the big thing for me. In high school I started smoking pot, drinking, and partying with ecstasy and stuff like that, but I was still able to function. My drug use had to do with my parents’ divorce—there was a lot of fighting in my family, so I turned to getting high and started experimenting. But when I tried heroin, there was nothing like it. By age 21 I was completely addicted. Every day, I would wake up and do everything I could to get high.

My parents were split up by then and they didn’t know about my addiction until later on. I did my own thing for a while, and I always kept a good job and my own place. Nobody really knew about my problem because I didn’t get into trouble. I tried many times to get clean, went to several detoxes, but it just didn’t work. I supported myself, but every time I saved any money I blew it on heroin. That was my cycle for many years.

When I was 26 I robbed a friend’s house for drug money. That’s how bad it was; I didn’t even care about what I was doing and how I was hurting my really close friend by committing a crime like that. I was charged with burglary and sentenced to three years in prison. I asked the judge for help, told him about my addiction and that it was causing me to commit crimes. I told him how heroin was destroying my life, and he promised that when I completed my sentence he’d send me to the Phoenix House Citra Center.

So that’s exactly what happened. It was my first time in rehab, and it was really a great experience. I showed up at Phoenix House at 30 years old, fresh out of prison, with an attitude of, “enough is enough.” I wanted help. I wanted to try my hardest and to overcome my problem. So I really gave my all, and the program has been such a blessing. I like the structure of it, how you work your way up the levels. I was a Senior Coordinator for three months, which is the highest level, and I got to help people in my house and hold others accountable as well as myself. The behavioral therapy taught me to overcome my criminal thinking and adapt my old behaviors. Treatment has really changed my life.

There are so many people at Phoenix House who truly want recovery, and that’s why this is such a great program. It’s helped my own mindset as well as my family relationships; my parents live in Puerto Rico now, but my mom came over to visit me two weeks ago and it was great. I now have four years clean, and I start a new job this week. I won’t be making as much money as I was before prison, but I’m thankful for what I’ve got. I look at it all as a positive thing—a stepping stone.

Returning to the real world is where the real test comes; when you start working and getting money in your pocket. But I’m going to continue using all the skills they taught me here at Phoenix House, and applying those skills to my life. I want to work in the treatment field eventually, and help people who are going through what I went through. But for now I’m just enjoying being involved in the community, going to AA and NA groups, and taking it one day at a time. I’m committed to my church, and there are a lot of people there whose kids or family members have drug problems, so I’m sharing what I’ve learned with them.

The best part of recovery is getting to know all the people—all the cool people who, it turns out, are in recovery too. Like I said, I’d never been to treatment before, and the network is awesome. Before Phoenix House, I had always thought I was alone in this. I thought that addiction only happened to me. But it happens to so many people, and so many people recover. I go to groups every day and hear people’s stories, and it’s like, “Hey man, that’s the same exact story that I’ve got!” It’s all made me understand that addiction is a disease, and recovery is possible if you work hard at it.


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  • Sara Halm

    David, you and I grew up together, living down the street from eachother, riding our bikes and always hanging out after school. Guess you could say growing up you were my guy best friend. Reading this it breaks my heart that we grew apart in HS cause wish I could have been there for you, no it wouldn’t have changed anything cause I know an addict will do as they please no matter who or what they are hurting in the process. Recently I had a good friend, she was one of my closest friends actually, our kids played together and we would spend holidays together. I was over at her house and she wanted to talk to me in private so we went to her room, when the door shut she pulled out a needle cause she was shootin up, I never even knew and was so shocked I almost froze. I told her I didn’t want to be around that and even more didn’t want my daughter around that, she said she wouldn’t do it in front of us. Needless to say the next few times I went over there she was so high she couldn’t even keep her eyes open. I expressed my concern but it didn’t seem to matter, I stopped talking to her completely and just found out she and her kids are living in a shelter, it breaks my heart but only she can fix it…. So, I guess with my long story here Im basically saying you are such a strong man to realize you had a problem and to say, “things have to change!” I have so much respect for you and am so proud of you. Remember to take it day by day, as some will be harder than others but you got this, I know you do. I am proud to call you an old dear friend. Continue with your success and know people are standing behind you and routing for you. Im always here, even just to vent. Lots Of Love My Friend… Sara <3

  • Andrew

    Hey man I watched you graduate!! We both from deltona and I made it too!! Congrats.

  • alesha

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