65% – 75% of incarcerated persons struggle with addiction, a known driver of criminal behavior.
I was born to an alcohol- and drug-addicted mother and father. My mom drank and did drugs while she was pregnant with me and gave alcohol to us kids so we’d sleep while she partied. My earliest memory is of going to a church party, asking everyone for sips of wine and downing their drinks when they weren’t looking. When I was three years old, my sister and I were placed for adoption because of physical and mental abuse as well as malnutrition.
My adopted dad sent me to an Ivy League prep school but that didn’t last; I got into fights and became the one everyone watched out for. When I was expelled from prep school, I moved back home to our rich, preppy town. As a jock and a rock-n-roller, I didn’t fit in but at 12 or 13, I found some friends. We drank a lot and took every drug, using more and more as time went on. When I freebased cocaine I became instantly addicted. I eventually had a $5,000-a-day habit and that doesn’t pay for itself. I was arrested for burglary at 17.
During my first time in jail, I got my GED but otherwise just killed time. When I got out, I didn’t face up to anything; I was always a manipulator and conniver. If I didn’t have someone [to support me], I’d find someone…relying on my looks, which is how I’ve managed for a long time. When I was re-arrested, I was sent to prison where I saw riots, prisoners killing each other, beat-ups. I told myself I was never going back, that I would never do this again.
My desperation to stay out of prisons and institutions became greater than my desperation to go back to stealing so I could have another fix. I had finally realized that this lifestyle was taking me nowhere fast. I got into NA and AA; now I go to meetings every day and finally have sanity back in my life. I have a full-time job working for a powder-coating company and plan to go back to school to get my Social Work degree.
My experience has been rough. Sometimes it takes a lot of struggle to gain wisdom. Most people have either an addiction or alcohol problem that got them in jail. And the best way to get past it is to treat it. Project 180’s clean and sober housing program would definitely be of benefit to teach people how to be stable and to give them tools to become successful members of society.