Tommy puts his relapses behind him, commits to permanent change

Tommy Davis and his father were close from the very beginning. When he was 13 years old, he moved with his father from his hometown of Chicago to Portland, Oregon. His parents had divorced several years earlier. “My mom wanted me to be brought up like a man, so she had me move in with my dad,” Tommy said.

Tommy’s childhood was filled with good memories with the constant love and support of his father. “My dad and I were very close. He gave me everything I needed. I had a wonderful childhood—the best dad in the whole world.”

Drugs and alcohol were not part of his upbringing, but that all changed with a move to Los Angeles at the age of 25. Tommy’s road to addiction started with beer, then progressed to hard alcohol, but it was a family member who introduced him to drugs. “My cousin and his friends were smoking weed,” he said. “They offered me a joint. It had cocaine in it, but I didn’t know. After that, I said, ‘Let’s go for some more, and it went off from there.”

In the years that followed his first night of using, Tommy developed an addiction that he could not escape. But the love of his father remained strong. “My dad was always there for me,” Tommy remembered. “I finally told my dad I was smoking crack. We cried together, and he got me help and into a rehab program in L.A.” This was the first of Tommy’s many attempts to get sober.

Tommy experienced several losses, including his girlfriend, his mom, and his dad. Over many years, Tommy would find himself going in and out of rehab programs, always returning to his addictions, drinking and using more heavily each time. The pain of losing his girlfriend and especially his father was severe and lonely. “I didn’t understand grief, so I started drinking and using to numb the pain,” Tommy said.

Now at age 59, Tommy is ready to get sober and stay sober, and the Life Recovery Program at the Ventura County Rescue Mission is helping him see this. “I’m at the point where enough is enough,” he said. “I’m at the age where my kidneys could go.”

The guidance and leadership within the program have helped Tommy notice patterns, for example, how when he would return to Los Angles, he’d begin using again. Tommy is learning that his surroundings affect his sobriety. “They (the chaplains) say, ‘Don’t go back to your old neighborhood or the people you used to be around.’ So I had to get away from L.A. I call it the dark pit.

“While I’ve been here, it helps seeing familiar faces and knowing that I can talk to anyone,” said Tommy, who has opened up to much of the Mission’s staff. “They encourage me to not give up, and I know that this time I’m not going to give up.”

Focusing on life skills and job readiness is giving Tommy confidence that he can learn new tasks. He feels more prepared for life after graduation. But it has been his growing relationship with God that has transformed Tommy’s life into sobriety. “Being here helps with more than getting clean,” he said. “I am becoming a better person. Maybe it’s because I’m 59, but I’m starting to understand the Bible a bit more and to stay in the Word so I can understand who I am. I put myself in the scriptures, put it on paper, and write about it. It’s like I’m giving a testimony of what is going on my in life right now.”

Tommy’s relationship with his dad was a constant support to him through the years. “I know he would be proud of me,” Tommy said. “He would tell me to ‘Keep up the good work.’”