As a native of Los Angeles’s inner city, where gang violence and drug dealing are key aspects of the landscape, I was one of the lucky few to survive childhood with spirit and ambitions intact. The poverty and despair that was all around me crushed the hopes and dreams of many of my peers; few finished high school, and even fewer went on to college. Most are now unemployed, homeless, incarcerated, addicted to crack cocaine or alcohol, or dead. These sad circumstances are something never far from my consciousness even today.
I am the only member of my family to ever to go and graduate from college, but at one time it seemed as though it might not happen. I used drugs and alcohol for 23 years. I was part of the cocaine epidemic that took place during the 1980s. I drank cheap wine, malt liquor, smoked crack cocaine and devoted no time in doing anything positive with my life. As time passed, I experienced hopelessness and despair in every aspect of my life. In 1988 I finally “hit bottom” living downtown on Skidrow in a cardboard box, addicted to smoking crack cocaine and drinking cheap alcohol. It was at this low point of my life where I had to admit that I had a problem, and also admit that I was sick and tired of being sick and tired of living this dysfunctional lifestyle I created for myself.
In 1991, I entered a 12-Step drug and alcohol rehabilitation program. The first program was the Union Rescues Mission located downtown on Skidrow for ninety days, and then transferred to Acton Rehabilitation Center for an additional ninety days. Statistics say the longer a person stays in treatment; the better their chances are on staying clean and sober.
Over time, I became an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous and Cocaine Anonymous. As a result of taking responsibility for my actions, I’ve been able to stay clean and sober for the past nineteen years, with no relapses. I’ve also been clean from cigarettes for the past eighteen years.
I am a...