I was 16 years old when I started using. The guy who was living across from me, he was really cool and everybody wanted to be his friend. So I’d go over and cut his grass and he’d buy me a hamburger. Eventually he said, “Here, here’s some dope, go pass it around. If they want some more, put out your hand and ask for money.” From then on, I was selling dope—methamphetamines.
I would sell some and use some. A year after I started I went into prison. So I was in prison for two years, I got out, and hey look, there’s a sack of dope! And it all started again. I was pretty much using that whole time—first I was doing lines, and then I started smoking it. I was living on the streets, and I had a girlfriend at the time who was living out there with me. I remember one time when everybody was sitting around waiting for a sack of dope. I remember thinking, “What am I doing with these people? What am I doing here??”
Eventually I was arrested again and they gave me the option to do the Phoenix House treatment program in the prison in Corcoran, CA. I had been in the prison system before, you know, so I thought, “Well, this is it. I went through hell and now I’m back. Do I really want that again?” So I went into the treatment program. Right away, all the inmates just said, “Drop your colors, drop your gang bullshit, drop your racism and your politics, and get to work.” I really appreciated that. I was in the treatment program for nine months—going to meetings and coming to grips with myself and my addiction.
I don’t know exactly how it happened, but they taught me something important in there. They taught me to look at dope and say, “I’m OK, I don’t need that in my life.” I changed my bad habits into good habits. I figured out my trigger points and the reasons I would start using before. Like, I got a ticket for speeding but now I won’t let that get me upset—I won’t let it trigger my drug use.
May 19 was my five years clean, and I know I gave it up to live a better life. I’m so grateful for the things I have now. If I see somebody who’s on meth –and boy, you can always tell – I say to him, “Look dude, it’s like this. I’m not trying to preach but there are better things and a better way of life.” That’s my attitude towards everything now—the positive outlook.
I’m from San Diego but I recently moved to Arizona to start my new life. I’ve been working a lot lately, saving up money. I don’t want anything big, I just want to live a comfortable life and keep paying my bills. I’m in touch with my family; my mom lives in San Diego and I talk to her all the time. Every time I call her now, she’s all happy and I can hear her smiling. It makes me feel good that she knows that I’m not getting into any trouble or backsliding. Since I’ve been sober I’ve lost touch with a lot of crummy people and gained real friends instead. I’ve traveled across the country three times, learned to kite surf, raced a Ferarri, and most importantly, learned how to love.