I grew up in Cary, NC, in a close-knit family and had the most splendid childhood imaginable. But when I was 12, one of the guys in our neighborhood who I looked up to accidentally shot himself in the head while playing a game of Russian Roulette with his friends. I was playing outside at the time, and when I ran in to see what happened, I saw his dead body on the floor. After that, I was never quite the same and I started drinking to help cope.

High school was just one big party for me, and college was an even bigger one. I was 24 credit hours shy of graduating when I decided to join the Navy. The Navy was amazing until I was honorably discharged after getting caught with marijuana. By far, one of my biggest regrets in life.

For the next nearly 25 years, I was using heavily. It started with freebasing, then moved to crack. The last three of those years, I was homeless and living on the streets of Cary. I remember the last time I used. I was smoking crack for a good 10 hours and just couldn’t get high. I started crying after breaking into my parents’ house to steal a beer out of the refrigerator, and realized I couldn’t do it anymore. I knew something needed to change.

The very next day, I was at the unemployment office trying to find a job, when the employee who I was working with told me about Healing Transitions and that’s when my life started to turn around. I very quickly became my old self again, and as I went through the program, I started to experience tough love for the first time by my community of fellow peers. I never knew something like that existed and I needed it so badly. You see, when you’re out on the streets using, it’s a cold, hard world. So, going from that to having someone actually care about me enough to tell me the things I needed to work on was amazing!

Toward the end of my time at Healing Transitions, I was hired to help build the women’s campus. They had us come over to strip and wax the floors and do security detail, and that’s what I did until I saved up enough money to move out on my own. The women’s campus will always hold a special place in my heart as it helped me move on from Healing Transitions, which is pretty awesome.

One of my biggest struggles after completing the program was that my mom passed away before I ever got clean. For as long as I can remember, all she wanted was for me to graduate from college. So, after Healing Transitions, I went back to school and got my associate degree in substance abuse from Wake Tech. I dedicated my degree to my mom and today, I have a relationship with my 88-year-old dad that I never had growing up. I live with him and take care of him, which is such a blessing and honor.

I’m so grateful for Healing Transitions and I never want to go back to being the guy I was before going through the recovery program. Drugs and alcohol no longer serve a purpose in my life. I’m so stoked to have 15 years clean and sober and I want to keep it going forever.