Featured Article: Jos's Story

Note: The gentleman who wrote this autobiographical account was referred to NAADD because he was in recovery and had a story worth telling to professionals and other consumers. He has graciously allowed us to publish this account. His name and other identifying information has been changed

Hello my name is Jose, I am an alcoholic. I was born with cerebral palsy; basically all that means is that it's a little bit harder for me to move my muscles. I know what I want to do and say, but to get the signal from my brain through my body takes awhile. So I have speech problems, and trouble moving my muscles.

I got introduced to marijuana about the age of 13 or 14. I guess I did it just to fit in. At that time I started hanging around with two different crowds. I had my regular friends. We worked on cars, went to movies, stuff that teenage boys do. The other crowd did the same kind of things, but they also smoked marijuana. Through high school and in my adult life I always had two different kinds of friends.

My uncle and I bought a mobile home. I had knee surgery. They gave me pain medication. Neither my uncle nor I drank at the time. One night I was in a lot of pain, and I just couldn't get to sleep. I think I went to get a coke, and got a beer instead. The one beer and my medication really took care of the pain. I finally got a good night's sleep. A few nights later I had the same problem, so I had a beer. I slept like a rock. I had to go buy some more beer. I bought a six-pack. A few weeks later I was buying 12 packs. I really didn't care for the taste, but I sure liked the effect.

I ran into an old friend of mine. It turned out he was living a few miles from me. When I would go see him, we drank or smoked a joint if we had anything. We were both on SSI, neither on of us had any money. We hung out a lot. My uncle worked graveyard. So he never saw me when I came home. It got to the point were I drank everyday. A friend started selling cocaine. He gave us some; I loved it. We got some more and took it to my house. My uncle got my friend and his electric wheelchair in the mobile house. He said I hope you guys will be OK until I get home in the morning. We stayed up ALL NIGHT! With many more to come.

In 1989 my name came up for a HUD apartment. I took it. Some of my friends helped me move into my very own apartment. My friends that were helping me move had some crank. I had never tried it. They gave me some, WOW! The guy left me a little for the next day; I did it all that night. In the morning I was calling the guy asking if he knew where I could get more. He said he could get me more, but I would have to come and get it. I went and bought some more.

Crank became my drug of choice. It gave me energy, I was able to drink a whole lot more beer. One night I was feeling kind of lonely, I found a bar about 1 mile or so away from my apartment. I had a few beers and went home. I went again and met some people. I started going to that bar every night, I usually went there with the intention of only having a few beers, but often ended up with a few too many. One time, I can remember drinking so much I had to lay down on the cement patio for a while before going home. I use to drive my electric wheelchair home. It was up hill, and some times I didn't have enough power to get up that hill. If I could I would push my self home, sometimes the Sheriff's deputies would see me and push me home. I would try not to breath toward them, so they couldn't smell my breath. Like they couldn't tell I was drunk. I always got home. I believe that was GOD working in my life. I liked it when someone brought cocaine or crank to the bar, I brought mine to share a few times to share, but it went too fast that way, I couldn't get all that I needed that way. So I learned to keep the crank to myself.

I did crank at least once a week. I would get that craving, like a hunger pain. The only time it would go away was when I was going to get some more. When I was on crank I couldn't eat. I had a hard time speaking. I remember on a holiday I was going to my Mom's for a nice dinner. I would swear I wouldn't do any crank until after. I would pick it up before going to my Mom's, the craving would start to kick in; I would have to take some crank. Well when I get that stuff in my body, I just can't stop. I don't know how many dinners I spoiled.

It got to the point were I knew I couldn't stop but I also knew I couldn't go on doing what I was doing. I got some sleeping pills and a 12 pack. It took me about 2 hours to unwrap those sleeping pills. I swallowed about 10 pills and had a few beers and lay down in my bed, hoping I would die. I threw everything up. I had to clean myself up and change my bed. I tried that stunt two more times over the next few weeks. After the third and final attempt, I called my Dad crying, telling him that I needed help.

My Dad Came over to my apartment the next morning, I think he took a day off work. I told him what had been going on. He was surprised to hear I was doing drugs. He took me to see my own doctor, who was really no help. The next few days and weeks, my Dad spent on the phone trying to get some help for me, calling help lines and even getting information on things such as crystal meth detox programs. He found an outpatient treatment center that accepted Medi-Cal I had an interview with a drug counselor over the phone. They agreed to accept me, but there were no openings at that time.

It seemed like it took forever for me to get in. Once I got in, I had group therapy 3 or 4 days a week, and one-on-one with the counselor 1 or 2 day a week. The staff was really good to me. I remember saying to myself when I get out of this treatment center, I am going to get a bag of crank, but that never happened. I knew I couldn't get it during the time I was in the treatment center, because we had weekly drug test. If the test came back positive, I was out! My whole family knew what was going on, I didn't want to let them down.

During the time I was going to the treatment center, a lady that worked in the office at the apartment complex where I lived at said she had a friend that might be able to help me. She gave me is name and number. I called him; we talked for a few minutes. He asked if I wanted to go to a 12-step meeting. I said no thanks, maybe some other time. He said I could call him again if I needed to talk. I called him back about 5 minutes later asking if that offer was still good about the meeting. He said of course, and gave me directions to the meeting. He met me in the parking lot, and asked if I would like a push. I said yes. Right before we went in the room, I put my feet down, stopping my wheelchair. I asked if I could finish my cigarette before we went in. He said we could smoke in the room. I couldn't tell you a whole lot about that meeting, but afterwards he asked if I had a big book. I said no, but I'll have to get it some other time, I had no money. He bought me a book, and put my name and my sobriety date in it. He wrote down pages he wanted me to read. He said he would be here again tomorrow night. I showed up the next night.

About a week or so later he asked if I had any questions about the book. I said I was having a hard time reading it. The next day he came by my apartment with his big book. It was full of highlighted pages & bookmarks. He read a few pages then I read a page. He read with me that way for a couple of chapters or so. I asked him if he would be my sponsor, he said he already was. He had me showing up to the meetings early and greeting people at the door is they came in. I didn't like doing it, but it was a great way to meet people. After awhile everyone knew my name.

I went to the 6 o'clock group and stayed for the 8 o'clock meeting. Afterwards a group of people would go out to coffee. I went to picnics, parties, and dances all sober. On New Year's Eve this group even puts on a talent show. There was a lot going on. I was picking up chips for 30 days, then 60 days and even 90 days of sobriety. I was so proud of my chips, I was drilling holes in them and putting on my key ring.

A church owned the apartment complex where I lived. Every year they had a student intern. A new intern moved in. She came knocking on my door and introducing herself to me. She invited me to services, I politely turned her down. She came again wanting to go see Monterey, and asked if I wanted to go with her. She was from Texas and wanted to see some sites. I decided to go with her. She and I became really good friends. Her first job was in a preschool with kids that had cerebral palsy. Her roommate in college had cerebral palsy. So that's why she took a special interest in me. She invited me to go services again, which I enjoyed. She kind of took me under her wing without me noticing it. She asked me if I had anything I wanted to learn. I said I would like to learn The Lord's Payer, I didn't know it and they said it after every meeting. She gave me a card with The Lord's Payer printed on it, and said after I learned it, I could recite it at a special service they were having. I learned it all right. But I also found a loving God of my own understanding. I was so exited, I told everyone that would listen. I've moved away from that apartment complex, but when I can I go to the services on Sundays. That place will always be my home church.

I started taking the bus and my electric wheelchair to meetings; I just couldn't afford the gas. On March 18, 1994 I went to a 6 o'clock meeting. I was going to go home right after the meeting, because it was too late after the 8 o'clock meeting to take the bus. I decided to ride my chair home it was such a beautiful evening; I got halfway home. I went in to a 7-11. I was going to buy cigarettes. I bought one beer, I still don't know why. I just wanted one sip. I can remember opening the can, putting my straw in, and before I knew it the can was empty. I felt like a failure. I went home and called my sponsor and told him what happened. He told me there was nothing he could do now. I should have called him before I had the beer. He said to call him first thing in the morning, and he hung up.

I called him. It was Saturday morning. He said get to the Saturday morning men's meeting. I had to start over again. I had to introduce my self as a newcomer again. We started working the steps all over. I took the chips off my key ring. I was going to do whatever it took to stay sober this time.

I started going to the big book study meeting. I met a man who became a good friend to me. He sat by me and held the book for me. He gave me money for gas. We went to different meetings. He would come pick me up every Wednesday, and we go to a meeting.

I got rear-ended me, and because I had no insurance, I was at fault. I remember driving to a meeting the next day and telling my sponsor what happened. Since I had no insurance and couldn't afford it, he suggested that I stop driving. I asked how was I supposed to get to meetings? He said start taking the bus or asking people for rides. It has been 8 years since I gave up my car. I can go anywhere by bus, train or BART. Hopefully someday I will be able to afford insurance again.

Near my one-year anniversary I got mad at my sponsor. I quit talking to him. I had someone put my name up on the birthday board to get my 1-year chip. He asked me who's your sponsor. I said no one. He said OK then who is going to give you your chip? I told him the name of a friend that I was hanging out with. When I got home I called him to make sure he would give me my chip. The next time he picked me up, I asked him to be my sponsor. He gave me my one-year chip and every other chip after that for a few more years.

I got involved with the group, secretarying meetings. I held a few different service positions. I even performed in the talent show a few times. It seemed the more I did to help out, the more I felt a part of the group. I couldn't lift the coffee pots, so I would have to arrange for some one to help me. I didn't like asking for help, but it got easier and easier the more I did it.

A sweet lady that helped me at home told me that she liked me. I had no idea what to do so I called my sponsor and asked what I should do. He asked if I liked her? I said YES! He said take her out. We spent a lot of time together. She came to a few meetings with me. She was there when I picked up my 3rd & 4th year chip. She became a very special part of my life.

My sponsor had an occasional beer, he hasn't yet made it back into the meetings, but he is doing well. Right after I got married I asked my first sponsor if he would sponsor me again. He was living out of the area at that time but was still coming to the meetings. He had me write a paper on why I wanted him to be my sponsor again.

I got a page early in the morning one day. It was from someone in the lock down at the hospital. I gave him my telephone number once. He was at the end of his rope and needed someone to talk to. I talked with him a few times. He said he had no visitors, and asked if I could come see him I called my sponsor to ask his opinion on it, and if it was safe for me to go. He said go, but make sure you give him the right information. I went there with my big book in my backpack. We talked for a little bit. We did steps 1,2 & 3 right there. It felt good helping somebody else.

Currently, I can't get to as many meetings as I would like, but I get to 3 or 4 a week. I'm a full time father and husband. I started a small business from my home. My life is rich and meaningful today. I still have problems and worries, but nothing that I need to drink over. Through working the 12 steps I have received tools that I am able to use in my daily life. I am blessed.