Daytop Addiction Treatment

When I grew up I experienced
a lot of different types of drugs, and I

became addicted to all of them.
I was involved in gangs and whatever the trend was at that time, using drugs, drinking, marijuana, pills, or whatever. I grew up in a family of alcoholics.  They took care of us, but I was hanging out on the street, and that helped to influence the direction that I was taking, and I started committing crimes.  Vandalism, breaking windows, all kinds of stuff.
I was getting deeper and deeper involved with heroin, that was one of the drugs that really brought me down at a very young age. I was using it intravenously at 9 years old.  That went on for years until I was around 18 or 19, when one of my sisters put me in a program, and I became aware of what it felt like being clean for a little while. But every time I went out on a home visit I would pick up again, and they would send me to detox again.

(Graduate, wife, daughter in a row)

(border around photo)

I didn't know what normal was

I didn’t work, I always stole, mostly cars. I went to prison several times for convictions of stolen motor vehicles, my record is full of it. I didn’t know what it was to be sober or working and doing the right thing or anything like that. I lost my sense and ability to care for people or for myself. I didn’t know what being normal was.

I got arrested, this was in 1997, and I spent two years in a correctional facility. There I received some training in computers, and from that point on, I had something I could hold on to, something that I earned on my own, something positive, that my mind could absorb.

(Graduate wife and daughter hug)
(border around photo)

So, I came out in 1999 and I remained clean until 2001. By then, I had been married, my wife was having a baby, and I didn’t know how to deal with that. I relapsed, and I went back to stealing cars, and I got arrested. They were going to gave me 5-to-life, as a persistent, non-violent felony offender.

An opportunity for change

(Couple looking at each other, daughter fore)

I got a young lawyer from the Legal Aid Society, and she did a thing with the courts that I couldn’t believe could be done. At that point they said, “Well, if you plead guilty to this, we’ll sentence you to one and half to four years. But we’ll send you to the program instead, and if you successfully complete the program, then we’ll dismiss all the charges.” It all depended on being accepted you in a program. So, low and behold, they accepted me, and I came into Daytop.

When I got into Daytop, they asked me, “What are you willing to do, to change, to do the right thing in your life?” And they wouldn’t accept anything except that I would do absolutely anything. I’ve never been to that type of treatment. From that point on everything that I did was put on a little table and examined, not by a bunch of scientists, psychologists, or anything like that, but other residents. I didn’t know how to resolve my problems in a positive way. They helped me to decide what I was going to do with my feelings. I didn’t know how to deal with civilized, normal, average people on the street.

A different life

My relationship with my wife took a different turn. She used to confront me all the time about my attitudes, the way I looked at things, and I never paid her any attention. And now I understand that she was trying to save my life. People all my life were trying to save my life, telling me “Don’t do that, do this, try this, make an effort to do this.“ After 47 years, finally, I figured out what it was they were telling me.

Now if I'm invited to a party, my wife and I stay a couple of hours, not all night. A lot of our friends are telling us that we leave too soon, but that’s okay, because I feel safer with my wife, who doesn’t drink, doesn’t drug, doesn’t smoke cigarettes. She curses a lot, but that’s okay, I can deal with that.

I'm happy with the person I am

My daughter is going to be 6 next month, and I’ve never, ever been so happy. And today, no one or anything is going to take one second of my sobriety. No matter what happens, I’m going to have to deal with my feelings.

I was asked the other day how I felt. And I said, I’m so happy, I’m so content, at what I’m doing, here on the job and at home, and when I’m by myself. I’m happy with the person I am.