From drug addict to Mr. Mom
This summer, a formerly homeless drug addict is celebrating three and a half years of sobriety. For many, a span of three years may not seem to represent a significant period of time, but for Steven, it represents when his second chance at life truly began.
Steven’s story is truly inspiring in that he went from a homeless and hopeless drug addict to a responsible single father of three toddlers in this short stretch of time.
Following a failed marriage and an honorable discharge from military service, Steven began using drugs in the mid-nineties. Within a few years, his casual use of the habit-forming substances had turned into a dependency.
After losing his apartment, being arrested for drug possession and living in his car, Steven admitted he needed help. He found hope in First Steps, the Coalition’s case-managed substance abuse recovery program. Like all First Steps candidates, Steven had to pass a drug test and was then assigned a case manager who worked with him to create a plan for returning to sobriety and self-sufficiency.
For Steven, one of the most exciting aspects of his case-managed plan was the opportunity he found with the Orange County Public School’s LifeStrides classroom, the adult education facility located on the Coalition’s main-campus. Through this program, Steven was able to gain a Help Desk Analyst certificate from Orlando Tech. While involved in the program, Steven was designated business student of the year, was elected to the student advisory board and eventually graduated with a 3.8 GPA.
Steven graduated from First Steps in December of 2005, completed his certificate that spring, and eventually earned a wait staff position at an upscale restaurant, where he quickly earned recognition, first as employee of the month and later as employee of the year. Along the way, Steven became a father for the second time. He was enthralled with his new bundle of joy, but regretted losing contact with an older child who lived out of state. As a result of his addiction, Steven had signed away custody of his first-born.
Though the relationship with his new baby’s mother did not last, Steven maintained a relationship with his child and his son’s two half brothers. Eventually, the children’s mother lost custody of them due to an abuse case and Steven found himself presented the opportunity to gain custody of not only his son, but two children who had also become like his own. For Steven, there was only one choice he could make.
“My kids are my life,” he affectionately states. Steven gladly accepted custody of the three children.
Steven has now maintained full custody of the boys for nearly a year and has even established a relationship with his older son. Though Steven admits the hardships that face him in his new role as “Mr. Mom,” he looks forward to teaching his kids a better way of life based on his experiences.
“In the past four years, I’ve gone from this drug addict who was homeless and overwhelmed by substance abuse to a fully responsible single dad…It all started here at the Coalition, because the First Steps program gave me hope when I was devoid of hope.”