I struggled for years in the world of substance abuse. Growing up, I was the youngest of 8 kids in a hardworking middle-class family. My abuse started the very first time I became intoxicated from alcohol. Drinking once or twice a week escalated to daily very quickly.
In my mid 20's I started smoking weed and using psychedelics, which only led to a craving for more. When I was 28, I decided to try heroin for the first time – little did I know, this would cost me the next 10 years of my life. It wasn’t until I was 38, that I decided I needed to start fighting this horrible disease. I knew I needed to get help. Through an outpatient program, I was able to find my first sober day in years.
My substance abuse took up so much energy for such a long period of time. After 6 months of counseling I decided to spend my time focusing on rebuilding my career and my relationships with my family and friends, which gave me a renewed sense of worth. I was grateful for any opportunity I received - regardless of the pay. Not only was my time occupied, but I was contributing to society. As I worked small jobs in landscaping and construction, I quickly realized that I wasn’t going to limit my challenges; I was going to challenge my limits. Perseverance paid off, as I found a job that I love as a route salesman. I used to believe the sky was the limit, but now I know not to put limitations on my future. While I love what I do, I know there will be more opportunities for me as I navigate what I truly want now that I have clarity. Clarity comes from action, not thought, which has led me to helping others. I began giving speeches on my struggles with addiction, with a goal of changing our youths’ way of thinking. I began “The Frontline.”