- Friends & Family
Heroes in Recovery lead advocate Marta Mrotek interviewed Joseph G. at the Recovery Results Conference in Dallas, TX.
I had a substance abuse problem myself, but when I got into recovery I went back to school, became a clinician and started working in the field. Now I work for a company called Recovery Unplugged, a national company with two locations, one in Fort Lauderdale and one in Austin. Our goal is to implement music in all of the treatment modalities in order to drive a deeper spiritual and emotional connection.
How did you find yourself in the recovery community?
I grew up in Texas, far south on the border of Mexico. I started getting into drugs and alcohol in high school and it progressed from one thing to the next. I always seemed to go a little further than all of my friends. You know, drink a little more, smoke a little more, whatever. So shortly after graduating from high school I found myself experimenting with heroin. That started a six-year journey of using heroin, going to treatment, getting arrested and then going back to the drugs, until finally getting sober on July 21 of 2008. I started working a 12 step recovery program and leaving my hometown to start a brand-new life elsewhere in Texas.
Was there a defining moment when you knew something had to change?
You know it’s really hard to rationalize heroin use. I don’t know if there was one moment of clarity but there was a moment, a very defining moment, when I decided that this time was going to be my last time trying to get sober. I had been living with my mother and she thought that I had been sober for a while but I hadn’t. I went to her and I told her that I relapsed, and that I had been using, and that I wanted to go to rehab the next day. Then I asked her for some money, she gave it to me and I went out and did what I was gonna do. When I came back home she wanted me to talk to this guy from a treatment center. So I did my phone screening and told them everything about me. They told me to be there the next day at noon.
Once I realized that I was going to be in treatment the next day I figured I might as well go pawn a guitar and go out with a bang. So as I was backing out of the driveway with this guitar my mom realized what I was doing and she ran out and threw herself behind the car. She was just on her knees in the middle of the street in Texas in the middle of July. So the asphalt was hot, and she was there on her knees crying and screaming. She kept saying, “If you leave I know you’re going to die. I just know it.” I remember realizing how terrified my mom was that I was gonna die and wondering why I didn’t care. Wondering how I had gotten to a point where I was the kind of person that didn’t even care. It was one of the biggest wake up calls. I realized that I couldn’t live like that anymore.
How is your life different now?
First of all when my mom comes to visit me at my house she leaves her purse wherever she feels like putting it, and she doesn’t worry about it. I’ve been sober for a little over eight years, working a 12 step recovery program and leaving home to start a brand-new life. I’ve been married for five years. I’ve got two beautiful boys. I’ve got a great relationship with my wife, she’s my best friend. When I was in my addiction if you were in my life I was taking something from you. Whether it be your money, sense of security, or anything else I could get. Today the biggest difference is that my goal with anybody that’s in my life, even though I don’t always succeed, is to contribute something to the person’s life instead of taking. That impacts everything else that I do.
If you could give one bit of advice to someone who is still out there suffering or early in recovery but would it be?
The biggest thing is that nobody is too far gone. You’re never so bad off that you’re beyond the help that recovery offers. The only thing that we can’t fix is if you’re dead. If you’re still breathing there is still an opportunity for your life to become what it was always meant to be. You cannot get to that by yourself. You have to have the support of a recovery program, counselors, family; nobody gets sober on their own. You have to be willing to take guidance and support from other people.