When I was growing up, I guess you would say that I was kind of a square, so I always followed my brothers and their friends so I could try and fit in with them. I would see them having fun drinking and doing drugs, so I tried it too. I didn’t really like the taste of alcohol at first, and I dabbled in marijuana a little bit. The weed would make me giggle and giggle and eat a lot of junk food, but nothing crazy. 

When I was 17 years old, I started doing powdered cocaine – and that became the thing.  It would make me feel better about myself. I was a skinny, dark-skinned guy with big buck teeth back then so I got picked on a lot. Cocaine soothed that pain, and people liked me because I had it. So for four or five years, I did a lot of cocaine and drank a lot of hard liquor. I knew at that time that I was always going to love coke and alcohol.

At age 24, I got a really good job at Lowes, and for the next four years, I would work there while drinking and doing coke. However, I wanted more and more and wound up losing that career because I started stealing money from them. They found out about it and I was fired.

I figured that since I messed up here, I’d just go somewhere else. So my brother brought me to Raleigh – and that’s where my addiction really took off. I didn’t have anywhere to live so all I did was snort coke and bounce around to different homeless shelters here and there. I eventually found myself under a small bridge on Dix Park, not even a mile from Healing Transitions. Every morning, I would wake up to the sounds of the guys from HT talking and laughing as they walked by on the trudge. Like an alarm clock, they would wake me up and I would go about my day panhandling. 

That was my routine until December of that year came around and it started to get cold. One day, I went to one of the nearby homeless shelters, and they knew me from before. They told me that I didn’t belong there, but they knew that Healing Transitions would have me, so they took me there.

During my first week at HT, I remember this guy who worked in the Detox shelter named Christmas. Every time I would come into Detox, he would ask me “what are you going to do? You going to take your recovery seriously or are you going to keep coming back and looking at me?” I would tell him something like “you don’t know me”, but he would ask me that same question. “What are you going to do?” Unfortunately, Christmas passed away, but every now and then I can still hear him to this day. Every moment in life where I have it bad, I can hear him asking me “what are you going to do?” He really taught me to think about my actions. Am I going to go the negative way or the positive way?

I stayed at HT for six months before that embezzlement charge came back from my past. The police came with a warrant and I wound up having to spend three months in jail. My freedom was taken away from me. I would sit in the jail and look at all of these other guys in there with me – guys who killed people, big drug dealers – and there I was. Even though I had six months of recovery at HT under my belt, as soon as they let me out, I started to use again. But just a couple of days later, I surrendered to my Higher Power and came back to Healing Transitions.

When I walked into detox, the person working at the front desk asked me if I had used in the last three days. My body wanted to lie to him, but my mind knew I had to tell the truth. So I said yes while I was shaking my head. That day, October 6th, 2014, is my sobriety date.

During my time at Healing Transitions,I really saw the pain that I had caused others. Until that point, I could only think about the pain that others caused me. But I learned, through the steps and the principles, that I was the cause of my own pain. Once I had this realization, that’s when I really got into recovery.

There were so many lessons that were taught to me by the different staff members and mentors I had at HT. I can remember Mr. Raeford telling me “whatever comes out of your mouth, you can’t take back.” He always said that, and it taught me to respect others. Another time, I was in the last stage of the program and was working on paying my restitution off with Mr. Dickens. I lied straight to his face about what happened with the money, and he looked back at me and told me “tell me the truth Tracey. It’s okay. When you tell the truth, it might not go as you planned, but telling the truth will get you better”. That’s how I learned how to be honest and take responsibility for my own actions. Actions, respect, and responsibility. I follow those three rules every single day along with the other principles I learned at HT.

I completed the Healing Transitions recovery program in 2016 and became an Alumnus. I knew that wouldn’t be the end of my time at HT, because now I have a place to go to help me in my recovery. So I created my entire daily routine so I would go from home, to work, to Healing Transitions, and back home every day. Over the years, the routine would change and I would go from home, to work, home group, HT, and back home. And now, it’s home, service work, home group, work, HT, home. 

Two and a half years after I got clean, I suffered a major heart attack. They told me that I died for 25 minutes, but they miraculously brought me back. For three entire months, Healing Transitions kept me afloat. They didn’t give me financial help or clothing or anything like that. But they let me be on campus, doing classes, from 6:30am until 7pm every day for three months straight.

Today, I have somewhere to go where there are hundreds of people that I can talk to every single day. Just by showing up and being a part of their community, I gain the strength to go fight the real world. Healing Transitions gave me the courage to face the things that I used to run away from. I’ve made amends by paying back the debt I owed the company from my past. I have a job and my license back.

Everything I’ve done through here is blessing me now. This is my second chance. This is the chance I need to show to people who I was before drinking and drugging. I was a pretty good guy back then, but the drugs and alcohol blocked me from being my true self. I’d lie, manipulate, and cheat trying to show you smoke-and-mirror magic. But now I tell the truth. And if the truth hurts, that means it must be the truth.

Today, I help others get into recovery, just like someone did for me. It’s very inspirational when you know you’ve been a part of someone’s recovery. I figure that someone respected me enough to do this. Someone took the action to help me, so I get to give back and do that for someone else.

I take the very philosophy of Healing Transitions out into the world every day now, and I have the opportunity to really be a good person. I’m the same person each day because I don’t have anything to hold me back or have to have anything to depend on. I just have to be here, do the right thing, be honest with people and show others that recovery is possible. That’s what makes me happy.

Join Healing Transitions for National Recovery Month as we try to raise $80,000 to give 80 people their first month in recovery! On September 27th, we will cap off the month with a Day of Giving, where an anonymous donor has generously offered a $20,000 day-of-giving match! This means the impact of your gift on the 27th will be doubled dollar-for-dollar up to $20,000! Find out how you can help out HERE!