I began experimenting with drugs and alcohol when I was 12, and by 17 I was using cocaine and smoking crack. I thought everyone was out to get me and I pushed away those who tried to help me, instead surrounding myself with people who enabled my bad habits. When I was 18 I crashed my car, which had stolen goods in the trunk, and I was arrested. I was looking at serious jail time but was given an alternative, to serve in the armed forces. In November of 1994, I enlisted in the Navy.
At first I enjoyed my new military lifestyle, and I was grateful to be given the opportunity for a fresh start. Unfortunately, my self-destructive habits soon returned; I began using crystal meth and getting into fights. I was often absent from meetings and was charged multiple times with drunken disorderly conduct. After three years and eight months of a four-year service, I was discharged from the Navy because of my behavior. That was when I knew I couldn’t let my addiction control my life any longer. I began seeking help at various treatment organizations—but as soon as I left treatment, I would find myself using again.
In 2008, I entered Phoenix House—the first place to give me the tools I needed to save my own life. I was terrified when I started treatment, but that feeling quickly disappeared. As the program progressed, I could feel myself starting to get control of my life. Phoenix House taught me that sobriety is possible, and that no one is beyond saving. Today, I am a proud father in recovery, and I work as the Director of Maintenance for Phoenix House’s facility in Long Island, New York. For the first time in my life I feel like I am truly living, and am grateful to Phoenix House for giving me that second chance.