David nears 10 years of sobriety, enjoys restoration with family

David attributes his success to the fact that the program is faith-based.

David attributes his success to the fact that the program is faith-based.

David was an addict for 20 years – starting at just 16 years old – and cycling through various drugs and alcohol. “It started with meth,” he said. “Then I quit and alcohol got a hold of me for about 10 years. Then I quit drinking. But not long after, I got hurt and started taking pain killers. And then that got so bad, and my habit was so big, that I started doing heroin. I did heroin the last two years of my addiction.”

David had a “good childhood” and grew up in a “close, tight-knit” Christian family who were active in the church. But grief and loss became triggers for David. “I lost my grandfather to suicide, then my uncle to ALS, and some other friends to suicide… I was trying to mask the pain, but honestly it wasn’t really masking it, it only made it worse.”

His family was always supportive and loving, David emphasizes, but the last two years of addiction placed strain on his relationship with his parents. “When it got really bad, when I was doing heroin, they didn’t really want anything to do with me,” he said. “They didn’t want me around… They didn’t believe a word I said. They couldn’t trust me.”

In April 2014, David overdosed. And he took it as his final wake-up call. “I was just done,” David said. “I called my mom and told her that if I didn’t get help, I knew I was gonna die. The very next day I was at the Mission.”

The faith-based foundation is what called David to the Mission’s Life Recovery Program and it’s what keeps him sober after graduation. “I knew what I had to get back to. I had been in about eight different rehabs and there was nothing about healing. There was nothing about God. But I knew I couldn’t get clean and stay clean without Him (God).”

After graduation, David moved back into his parent’s house as he “restarted his life.” A family friend helped him get a job at the Fairgrounds in the maintenance department where he’s since worked his way up to Event Manager. And he uses his position to help others. “I like to hire people who are in recovery or who need second chances,” David said. “I know all about that. They know I’m available for help too. We talk and they ask advice on recovery. I get to lead the lost with God. It’s awesome!”

David attributes his continued success in recovery to the habits he developed while in the program. “I keep a lot the same,” he said. “God put it on my heart to wake up and write about everything I was going through with addiction, everything that was on my heart. Now, I still have my morning time with prayer and worship. I write daily.”

David also found the connections he made to both the staff and the residents critical for success. “You need accountability, you need someone to talk to, you need people who care about you. I still talk to some of the program guys and visit the program staff to this day.

most importantly, rebuilding a relationship with God was central to David’s recovery. “The weekly church services and Bible classes truly made a difference in my life. The Mission laid a good foundation for me.”

Upon graduation, David connected with a local church and men’s group and attended weekly Celebrate Recovery meetings to stay on track.

Now, David is thrilled to have his relationship with his family restored. “My relationship with my parents is so much better. It was broken before, but God breathes life back into all these relationships. There’s trust now. They understand I’m not who I was before.”

Jeff, David’s father, added: “Our relationship before was strained. He always knew we loved him, but we couldn’t always be around him… But (after graduation) it was evident that God had done great work in him. He’s definitely not the same person he was when he went into the program… He’s a walking miracle.”

David currently lives in Antelope Valley with his wife, Darlene, and will celebrate 10 years of sobriety in April 2024. He said he feels more at peace now, which helps him stay sober when he experiences loss – something that would have tripped him up before.

“I’ve experienced more loss now than when I was using (drugs). Losing my little brother was one of the hardest things I had to go through sober. But I’ve never been tempted to use again. Being clean and feeling all those emotions is so much healthier.

“There’s been trials and storms within this journey, and I haven’t lost my faith. It’s only made me closer to God.”