After years of watching his father drink, Dustin noticed that his dad would act differently when consumed alcohol. He was only 9 when he took up the habit. “I started asking my dad for sips of his drinks, and he would give it to me,” Dustin said. “I really liked the taste of alcohol, which is weird at that young age. Before I knew it, I was sneaking more and more drinks.”
Dustin was born in Ojai in 1980, and was raised an only child with both of his parents, although they ended up divorcing when he was 17. He graduated high school and was a “normal” student. His dad was a Ventura County firefighter and he had a decent life, Dustin said.
Dustin’s drinking got worse when he got to high school. “I knew it was an issue because it caused a lot of problems in any relationship I got into,” he said. “It later led to fighting and anger issues.”
When Dustin was 16, he got arrested for the first time, which he blames on alcohol. His alcoholism led to marijuana and cocaine use. “One day God gave me a clear vision and told me to leave everything and go,” Dustin said. “I have to admit that I didn’t go at first. I started using meth, which lead to me getting arrested. I think about me getting arrested and I know what was meant for evil turned out to be for my good. I believe that saved my life.
“I went from having my own home and painting company to going to prison. But prison is where I got saved and really started to get that relationship with God.”
Dustin started praying, and he fasted three times a week. After he got out of prison, he went back to his house, which was being used as a drug house by the girl he had been seeing when he was arrested. “She had introduced me to meth,” he said. “There were drugs and guns all over the house and I was on parole. She had sold everything in the house—all of my belongings. At that moment, God told me to leave again. I ran down the street with my bible and went to the Mission.”
Dustin said he didn’t know what to expect when he got to the Mission. “I just knew it was where I needed to be,” he said. “I started to fellowship and worship with the men here. I kind of feel like I am here to help them, as well as to get help for myself.”
He’s been at the Mission for more than four months now. “I love the way the program is structured,” he said. “I want everyone to know that the Mission is where it’s at. If you’re looking for somewhere to restart, you can do it here. It’s a place to rebuild your life.”
Dustin has been sober for three years. “Once I gave myself to God in prison it was no going back for me,” he said. “I want to minster to people all over the world and share my story. Some people might say I’m crazy, but I don’t care.”