Joseph was born in Phoenix, Arizona. He grew up in poverty with his mother after she and his father got divorced. He went through many trials and tribulations early in life. After many bouts of in-school suspension, it was recommended that his mother take him to see a doctor to determine if there is anything different about him. A doctor diagnosed him with ADD and he was immediately prescribed Ritalin. He was taking the medication before school and at lunch.
Joseph noticed that the medication seemed to mellow him out. His mother’s methods of positive reinforcement seemed to work. Joseph’s mother attempted to motivate him by giving him gifts and toys when he stayed well behaved. This seemed to keep him on track for some time.
Joseph wasn’t tempted to try marijuana when he was younger. His mother told him a story of her experience when she tried it. She told him about it made her lungs feel like they were on fire and that she was going to die. The story was scary enough to him that he didn’t have any desire to use.
As he got older, Joseph started hanging out with his sister and her boyfriend. He was exposed to marijuana use at a party. Joseph noticed that no one was having the same negative effects that his mother had described. After peers pressured him to try it, Joseph gave in and gave marijuana a try. This proved to be a poor choice because a after using it just one time he instantly wanted to do it more and more. It gave him the peace that he had never had in the past and he loved that it made him feel calmer and more focused.
Joseph’s Addiction Begins
Eventually, the marijuana use wasn’t enough for Joseph. He began to start drinking. He was stealing alcohol from his stepfather and refilling the bottles with water to try to hide his alcohol use.
The drug and alcohol use led to Joseph making more and more poor choices. The consequences of addiction slowly began to spiral his life out of control. He was arrested for bringing marijuana on school grounds and started shoplifting on a regular basis. While living in a trailer park with his mother, Joseph decided to try to get more money to support his habit by working with others in his neighborhood to steal the rims from a nice car parked near his home. The group took the rims to a local heroin dealer, sold them for heroin, money, and marijuana. Unfortunately, the rim theft was a set up and he was later arrested and charged with burglary and trafficking of stolen property at the young age of 12 years old. Joseph was found guilty of the charges and sent to Juvenile Hall.
Once he got out of Juvenile Hall, Joseph started using drugs again and eventually violated his probation. He was sent to a High Impact Substance Abuse Program three different times without having any success with sobriety.
Joseph was incarcerated many times between the ages of 12 and 16. He started lying to get the drugs that he wanted. He claimed that his stepfather beat him and at one point tricked psychiatrists that he had anxiety in order to gain access to the drugs that he loved so much.
Consequences of Addiction
Joseph was sent to the Youth Recovery Academy in an attempt to get him clean from drugs. He made a resolution to himself while he was in the facility that he was going to stop using drugs and only allow himself to enjoy drinking responsibly to avoid alcoholism.
Once he was released, he drank in hiding at first and soon began drinking more and more. His mother eventually found out that he was drinking and tried to motivate him in the only way she knew how. She made an agreement with him that if he continued to pass his drug tests, each week she would get him a six pack of beer after each test. This didn’t help his drug and alcohol addiction at all.
When Joseph tried to go back to school, he was so overwhelmed that he didn’t want to keep going. His mother allowed him to drop out and he then started going to UTI. While he was there, he started hanging out with the wrong people and began partying again. He started selling cocaine and eventually started using it. At 17, he was using cocaine, smoking crack and drinking.
Eventually he was called for a random drug test and failed. His mother started going to a group called PALS that’s designed to help families of addicts. His mother learned to set boundaries for him and gave him an ultimatum. He didn’t meet the stipulations and she left. He began shoplifting, committing fraud and doing anything that he could to get drugs. Eventually, his sisters were even addicted heroin.
A Better Way
After living under bridges in canals, Joseph realized that he had hit a low point in life. The consequences of addiction finally caught up to him in a big way. On December 1, 2009 Joseph went to meet his dealer at a local gas station where he was arrested by the police for previous acts of shoplifting, he had committed. He was sent to a complex in Florence, where he completed a 12-step program to get recovery from alcohol and drugs. Before being released in 2010, he wrote letters to everyone in his family. He got a letter from his father that explained that he needed to make a true change in his life if he was ever going to have a good life. The letter impacted him enough to go to a halfway house after his release.
Joseph reached out to his mom and was able to rebuild his relationship with her. He found out that had gotten remarried and was able to meet his new baby brother. His mother helped him by paying a few months of his rent to the halfway house and wished him good luck with his recovery. He had to follow the directions for the halfway house, get a job and become independent in order to stay there. He finally lost the desire to use.
Good things started to happen in his life once he got a hold of it. He was able to get his license and started his own vehicle repair business while he was still living in the halfway house. He was inspired to become the best son, friend, brother, husband and father that he could be.
Later, Joseph started Sanctuary Social Living which was a halfway house for others who are in the same situation that he was in. He’s also able to use his life experiences to motivate others to become sober and get the life that they deserve to live by working as a Volunteer for the Arizona Department of Corrections. He’s now living the life that he always wanted to live and is sober and happier than ever.