Gregory was 12 when he took his first drink. By age 19, he was using crack cocaine. As a roadie for a rock band, Gregory had no trouble getting coke on the road and, besides, “everyone else was doing it.”
“Using coke felt great,” says Gregory. “I had a big hole inside me – I had no self-confidence and I was insecure. The coke was the perfect substitute for the inner strength I lacked.”
For nearly 20 years, Gregory used coke intermittently, mostly on the weekends. He could afford it – he had a great job and was financially well off. He didn’t see a problem with his using coke so casually; he felt he controlled the situation. But then his weekend habit progressed to a daily habit. He went from snorting to smoking coke. His “recreational” habit was now costing him $300-$400 a day. He was drinking more, too – nearly a quart of vodka every day. His addiction cost him his job, two marriages and two sets of children. It alienated his family. He began to get into trouble with the law. For a time, he lived at the City Mission. He realized he was not in control at all.
Gregory sought help many times. What he didn’t realize was that, at the time, he was also suffering from depression. When he quit using coke, he would be unhappy. So he’d go back to what made him happy: drugs. And his recovery efforts would fail.
“I wanted the drugs to end it all for me, but they didn’t do that,” says Gregory. “There were many ‘final straws,’ but I’d always go back to coke and to stealing and conning to get it.”
His epiphany came when he landed in jail for nearly four months. At first, he was just dying to get out of jail, back onto the streets and back to his habit. Then he started praying heavily, asking God for the answers. “It seemed like God was keeping me there for a while, so I had a chance to change my way of thinking and to clean myself up,” says Gregory. “I started feeling better, looking better, and I reconnected with my parents. I realized they didn’t hate me…they just didn’t like me when I used drugs.”
Gregory credits the help he received at Horizon with his turnaround. He underwent counseling, participated in group sessions and generally received a lot of support. “I couldn’t believe how much the people at Horizon genuinely cared about me,” says Gregory. “They were always, always there for me, giving me advice and offering me unconditional support. And I made a lot of friends through Horizon.”
He admits, though, that recovery is not easy. He didn’t always take the advice offered to him. Gregory says he had to have a real desire to overcome his addiction, and had to find the strength to do whatever it took. “I realized I had to put as much effort into staying clean as I had to put into being an addict,” he says. “But being clean had so many more positives.” Gregory soon realized he enjoyed being clean and that his prayers were being answered.
Today, in his 40s, Gregory has just passed his first full year of sobriety. He’s going to school full time to become a paramedic. His parents are back in his life, as are all of his kids. He even has a good relationship with his ex-wife. He’s very involved with AA, NA and various church groups, telling his story and helping to spread the word. “If I can overcome something like this, anyone can,” says Gregory. “It’s not easy but, if the desire is there, it is definitely possible.” And Gregory should know.
Path To Recovery
The Path To Recovery includes true stories of consumers who overcame many obstacles with the help of Horizon Health Services to turn their lives around. Last names have been omitted for privacy.