Louis Gives Up Drinking And Looks Forward To A Renewed Life

As Louis nears 50, he marvels at the clean bill of health he recently received from the doctor. “I’ve been drinking since I was 16. That’s 34 years,” he said. “I just thought I would have some health issues with the amount I’ve drank. But everything is OK.”

Now that Louis is at the Mission, getting the help he needs, he’s been reflecting on a lot of the good that’s come along with the bad in his life. “The fact that I’m healthy, that I got a football scholarship, that I was raising my sister when I was 7 years old, I’m realizing that God is the only way I could have done these things and made it this far.”

Louis grew up in the Sacramento area. His father was an alcoholic and out of the picture; his mother was a heroin addict. “At a young age, I had to learn how to take care of myself,” he said. “My mom was in and out of jail, so we moved around a lot to different friends’ and relatives’ houses. I was taking care of my sister when I was 7, 8, 9 years old—I was just a little kid.”

At 16, Louis started drinking, but only on the weekends so he could focus on sports during the week. He got a football scholarship to Utah State University where he continued drinking. After college, Louis settled in Davis, and at 25, he met his wife and they had two kids. After 14 years together, the marriage ended. “The years are kind of blurry,” he said. “I bartended and managed bars for 10 years. Then I did technical support and then had a bail bonds business for seven years. But I continued drinking throughout. My whole life, just drinking, drinking, drinking.”

Louis relocated to Ventura County to be closer to his kids, who lived in Simi Valley. “The bail business slowed down and I messed things up,” he said. “I was drinking more, and had too much time on my hands. I got behind on rent and ended up stuck on the streets, staying on couches when I could. It was a year of that.” Louis visited the Samaritan Center, and they connected him to the Mission, where he graduated, moved into transitional housing and started working at Lowe’s. But when a death in the family sent Louis back to Sacramento, he had trouble coming back. He relapsed, and spent the last three years “mostly just drinking.”

Now, having been back at the Mission since October, Louis is looking forward to doing things differently. “I was embarrassed that I had to come back, and I felt depressed,” he said. “But once I got going, I knew I needed to be back here. I just need to stay healthy and get the most out of the program as I can. I think I left last time a little too early and kind of isolated myself a little. This time I want to stay involved. … My relationship with God has strengthened. I feel so fortunate now.”

Louis’ kids, who are now 15 and 16, visit him every other weekend. They go to private school where they play sports and get straight As. “My ex-wife does such a good job with them. My relationship with them is good. That’s the main thing that has kept me motivated. If it wasn’t for them, I’d still be out on the streets.”