Jerry M. - Journey Through Recovery

I will start my journey at what I hope and pray was the end of my drug and alcohol addicted lifestyle. I say journey because that is what this process has been to me. I had pretty much reached the end of having fun with the old lifestyle. I was homeless and divorced, I was angry that my son was killed in an awful accident and was on a really bad road to destruction. I had become a pathological liar and did whatever I could to get the next drink or drug. I was fired from yet another job at the city, where my mom had worked for 20 plus years. I found myself with no options, and then it was suggested to me to go to treatment since I could cobra my insurance and this would give me some time to figure out my next plan. I ended up in a treatment center. While at this center something happened, I found a desire to not use and to do something different. I finished the treatment center and started going to aftercare, one night when I left the session I drove to the drug dealers house and purchased some crack, as I was knocking on the door I can remember saying to myself I can’t do this. I now know that was the insanity that they talk about in step two of the twelve steps. The next time I went to aftercare I did something totally different I told the truth and admitted that I had relapsed and told them I wanted help. I was told that my insurance had run out and that I could not continue with aftercare because I relapse. Fortunately there was a therapist there whose name was Tyrone, he told me to give him my phone number and that he had a place for people like me and said he would call me when they had a bed open. I remained drug free for 3 weeks and continued to go to NA meetings and wouldn't you know that the same day that I received a call from Tyrone; I had just returned to house with $100 worth of crack, I was supposed to be at this place called Better Way within the hour. Needless to say I did not make it. I called the center and spoke to a guy called Zack who I knew from a previous treatment center. He told me to get a ride there and that they would do an intake. My mother loaded my suitcase in the trunk and we were off to Better Way. I had no idea what the place was. When we pulled in the curtains were blowing through what used to be windows and I realized I was going into a condemned building. Zack told my mom to open the trunk, and then he took my suit case out and told my mom to leave. My mom sped away and I was standing in front of the building thinking, oh boy, what am I going to do now.

I was told that Better Way was 12 step house and that if I didn't want to recover that I should leave. I had heard about these 12 steps but did not really think they would help me. It didn't take long to realize what a special place this was. We were self-governing and monitored each other very closely. All conversations were about the 12 steps and most importantly about the spiritual principles.

I spent six months at this program and it was life changing. I was told by the other residents not to go back home but to stay and continue my journey. I didn't listen and I took my will back. I went back to live with mom and started attending the NA meetings which I was attending before Better Way. One of the suggestions was to stay out of relationships for a year. I didn't think that should apply to me as I was doing so well. I went to see the new love of my life and she explained that she was getting high and would not blame me if I left but hoped I would stay. I gave her extra money to make sure that she got enough drugs for both of us. That began the worst run and bottom of my life. I continued to use for about a year and a half, then I got a call from Jimmy, who I was in treatment with, and he encouraged me to come back to Better Way. I returned to Better Way on February 1993. I begged them to let me in and was told the only reason they were letting me in was because they didn't want me to die. I began to take all suggestions and made a commitment to put my recovery first at all costs. Beth Lang, who was the most caring and giving person I have ever encouraged me to continue my journey in recovery and to go back to school. I enrolled in Miami-Dade College and thanks to her and David Raymond, from Jewish Vocational Services, I was given a job 2 days a week helping the homeless population at Camillus house find work. From there my life has continued to get better. I went to a school called ATI at the advice of Beth and spent a year leaning how to counsel people in substance abuse. I then went to Barry University and received my Bachelor’s degree, and then Barry University’s Masters in Social Work program. It took me 9½ years to finish my education. I had become a supervisor for the Jewish Vocational Center, and I did my internship with Bay View Center of Miami which was a mental health facility. Upon graduating from Barry they offered me a job to start a new program for them. Throughout this journey one thing that I have never wavered from are the Spiritual principles that were taught to me at Better Way of Miami. I am now the Clinical Director of Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches. I teach the things I learned at Better Way on a daily bases and I am truly grateful that Better Way has opened the doors for me to change my life. In February of 2011 I celebrated 18 yrs of recovery and am truly grateful to Beth Lang and the people from Better Way who made this possible.