A newfound life

We are always gratified when Coalition for the Homeless helps dramatically change a life for the better. Arethus shared his story of hope, determination and a newfound life at our Empty Bowls Symbolic Soup Kitchen Luncheon on November 15, 2010.  His powerful words brought a standing ovation; and we wanted to share an excerpt of his story with you.  

“My name is Arethus and I am a grateful client of the Coalition’s First Steps Substance Abuse Recovery Program.

I was a hopeless drug and alcohol addict on the verge of suicide, living on the streets like an animal, both using and selling drugs.  In fact, I’d been using drugs since the age of 20 and thought there was no hope for anything else. I was sure I was going to be an addict the rest of my life.  Then one day I decided, ‘There’s GOT to be another way!’

I met a guy in jail who told me about the First Steps Program. When I got out, I realized there was nothing to lose and gave it a try!  (NOTE: Arethus’ drug-related activities led to a number of periods of incarceration over the years.  This final time lasted seven months.)

I came to the Coalition and talked to Mr. Bill [the program director], and he accepted me into the program.  That was the end of June 2010.  After spending the required seven days in the pre-entry phase to make sure I was clean and sober, sleeping on a mat on the floor, I was able to move into the First Steps dorm.

Since then I’ve become a miracle!

I learned about a fellowship called Narcotics Anonymous (NA) that taught me how to stay clean with the help of other addicts.  It also taught me that I was not alone in my addiction.  I would have never known about this fellowship if it wasn’t for the First Steps Program.

Since I’ve been in First Steps, I have learned how to manage my life.  I’ve also learned to love myself and others.  First Steps taught me how to budget my money; go on a job interview; manage my daily activities; and even how to sit upright in a chair without slouching.  I now understand what it means to be humble and that I need to be open to new ideas.  I used to think it was all about me.  It used to be, ‘My way or the highway.’ Now things turn out better when I listen to others, take suggestions, and then pick the best option.

And it’s really paid off!

Today, I’m a clean, recovering addict with a full-time job at a local plastics manufacturer.  I started as a packer and am learning quickly how to operate the machinery.  I actually love my job, something I never thought possible, and now pay my bills on time.  And on November 3, 2010, I moved into the First Steps transitional apartments.

I am still getting help from the program and my case manager, such as how to budget and save my money and not just throw it away.  Shopping is very addictive!

I’m learning to keep my life manageable and how to ‘give back’ by doing community service—and so much more. My program meetings are very important. I go to three or more meetings a week, have a sponsor and pass on the message of recovery at every opportunity—like when I’m riding a LYNX bus and the opportunity arises.

I thank God, the First Steps Substance Abuse Recovery Program, and the Coalition for giving me my life back—and everybody here for your support.”

NOTE – We are happy to let you know that Arethus has since moved into his own apartment, is working hard at the same job, and is maintaining his recovery – one day at a time.  He continues to be a miracle!