I came from a family of six brothers and one sister. It was a close-knit Christian family- both parents in the home at all times. I started to use marijuana at the age of 13 and progressed to using PCP, and crack cocaine. A life of crime-my life became unmanageable. I went through Juvenile Hall and State prisons which led to at least 25-30 years of being in the system. During my last 11-year term my mother died. She was the only one I had left who believed in me because my father had already passed.
Reality set in and I had to do something different; there had to be a better way. I knew that my parents didn’t raise me to be a criminal and I wanted to make both of them proud. Upon my release, I was introduced to Safe Refuge (Substance Abuse Foundation of Long Beach). I know now that mom and dad are both watching and smiling down at the way my life has truly changed. I’ve learned to set boundaries, to treat others better. One of the most important things I learned was about me. 99.5 percent of my problems stemmed from my behavior and the other .5 percent was from drugs.
Safe Refuge got me back to me where I now live each day for a reason and purpose and connect with my higher power who I call God. I must touch base and walk with Him on a daily basis, for none of this would have been possible without his grace and mercy, and my willingness to want something different. I love myself today and enjoy living. I see life was always there, but I wasn’t.
Just know when you hit your rock bottom; there is hope for you. Today, I take living one minute, one second, one day at a time. You can recover, too!
I am a proud to have successfully completed the treatment program at Safe Refuge. With the guidance, assistance and affordability of the program, I’ve been given the opportunity to get my life back on track and move forward to attain goals and aspirations that before treatment appeared beyond my grasp. From the excellent on-on-one counseling sessions to the group classes that addressed many of my substance abuse issues, I was provided the best support, insight and direction on how to move forward with my life.
My appreciation for Safe Refuge is deep rooted because I was accepted here when no other place would take me, and my mom wanted me out of her sight. Safe Refuge taught me to be accepting of the little things in life that most people ignore. Today, I have a relationship with my mom.
I lost my mother in 2007. Shortly after, I inherited a large life insurance policy. I was young and did not know how to manage money. By 2009 I was completely bankrupt and had lost everything.
At first, I managed my sleeping on friends’ couches, but eventually I ended up homeless. Before coming to Safe Refuge, my addiction had me sleeping in abandoned cars, on park benches, alone with nothing to eat. Safe Refuge saved my life. Since working in the monitor’s office, I have gained self-esteem and a new sense of responsibility.
Safe refuge has given me another chance at life.
Safe Refuge has also showed me why it is so important to give back to where you come from, for my experiences just might save another addict’s life.
Safe Refuge has given me my life back. Not only that, but it is showing me how to keep it and love myself and work on all my issues that I put myself through chasing that drug. It’s given me support by picking up my kids when they were returned to me. Helping me get to where I needed to go and showing me how to do things. I’m grateful for what I’ll be leaving with because, when I came in, I didn’t even want to live…now I have a life and I’m living happy with my babies. I’m very thankful.
I grew up in an Irish Catholic family, I was loved and blessed with anything I wanted. My family was extremely close and had family gatherings every weekend. In my family what happens behind closed doors stays behind closed doors and everything is perfect on the outside. I knew I was different early on and my family was different. There was a lot of alcoholism, drug abuse and violence so I learned at a young age to keep my mouth shut and act like everything is ok. My dad was a heroin addict and taught me at the age of 12 to revive him from a heroin overdose and not tell my mom or uncles. I was a good student but I was also a runner. I started drinking during high school and it just escalated from there. I never knew how to express my feelings or express the pain I was holding onto. My life was in constant chaos, misery and shame. I became a heroin addict so that I could be in a constant state of complete numbness. I was kidnapped and gang raped for 7 days, I went to prison, in and out of jail, and numerous treatment facilities. I buried friends and overdosed three times. I wanted to die.
I came to Safe Refuge broken, bruised, and scared but something inside me knew that I really didn’t want to die and I wanted help. Since I have been at Safe Refuge I know I am a survivor and I am a strong woman. I have walked through a lot of emotions and learned a lot about myself and my disease. The groups, counselors, staff and clients have been an essential part of my Recovery. Safe Refuge helped me rediscover the person I always knew I was.
I worked as a truck driver from 1995 to 2000 and during this time my girlfriend gave birth to our first daughter. My daughter’s mother got on welfare, then left one year after having the baby. In 2002, I was unable to work because my license was suspended for unpaid child support. I was paying child support even though I was the custodial parent. After some investigation, I found out my daughter’s mother was cut off from welfare. She had filed for child support in another county with a fake address. I went to court trying to fight it while unemployed.
All of my money was exhausted. All of the stress this caused was my justification for relapse. I spiraled out of control from there. I spent 11 years doing drugs (Meth). I served two prison terms and fathered three children. One child was born while I was in prison. The mother of my children was under the influence of meth upon delivery of the third child. This resulted in all three children getting taken away by the state placed in foster care.
In 2010, while doing a prison term, an inmate mentioned Substance Abuse Foundation of Long Beach, now Safe Refuge. I called Arthur Romo from prison, knowing I wanted to change my life. I explained my situation to him and wanted to make sure I had a bed upon my arrival. Just three days later, I was at Safe Refuge with a bed. The date I arrived was April 25, 2011. I went in with open arms and completed 90 days of treatment. I started the court process to get my children back. I then become an intern receptionist supervisor at the Executive Office for Annette Mulinix.
My children came to live with me at Safe Refuge. My driver’s license was restored and I was able to intern for Chris Kerivan. Now, five years later, I am still sober. I have full custody of all my children. Today, I am working to find our own home and I am employed full time as a Long Beach Port truck driver.
My new life is all due to Safe Refuge. I want to thank you for helping me get my life back. My thanks to all the employees and everyone else here involved in helping me regain my life.