Growing Up in a World of Addiction

Can you remember what it was like to be 10 years old?  Maybe you can look back on carefree days of relaxing with family, going to school, playing sports and goofing off with friends.  You might recall feeling safe and comfortable at home. 

This was not the case for Enrique.  As the youngest of eight, he grew up watching all of his siblings abuse drugs, deal drugs or both.  He was surrounded by substance abuse and addiction for as long as he can remember.  At ten years old, it seemed perfectly normal for him to try out drugs himself. 

“I can remember I was only in the 4th grade when I smoked my first marijuana joint.  I was a product of my environment, not only of my neighborhood but also of my home.”

Having been around drugs for so long, he was curious. He was an impressionable young boy who had no idea how that first experience with drugs would affect the next twenty-five years of his life.

“I always wanted to be like my older brothers.  Seeing them get high or have lots of money and not have to work looked very intriguing to me.”

He continued to smoke marijuana until high school when he moved on to cocaine.  Cocaine eventually led to meth in his mid-twenties.  His youth was spent wasted in a world of addiction.  He felt lost. 

“Nothing else mattered but getting loaded. I left all responsibilities and self-respect.”

At the time, Enrique convinced himself that he was okay and that losing his family and freedom didn’t matter.  But, in reality, he continued to grow tired of repeatedly disappointing his family and spiraling down this endless tunnel of abuse and desperate manipulation.

“It crushes me still to this day that I was so naïve to allow myself to manipulate myself.”

As the years passed and Enrique saw his daughter getting older, he realized that he couldn’t continue on this path.  He had lost everything and struggled to live with no home, no family, no education and no job skills.  His addiction had taken over, and he knew he needed help.  When he was being arrested, Enrique reached out to God and prayed that he would find a way to recover.

When he was released from prison, Enrique went straight to Cedar House to change his life.  He had been clean for almost three years and could clearly see what he needed to do. 

“I took advantage of the opportunity.  I attended all my groups, absorbing everything like a sponge.  I met the panels when they would come in and speak. I kept with the winners while in treatment – those who were serious and were here because they wanted a change in life.  I spoke to every staff member and asked a lot of questions.  I took my case manager’s advice and direction and followed it.”

The dedication of the Cedar House staff influenced Enrique in such a powerful way.  He took responsibility for his own recovery and committed himself to making it happen.  

“The best part of my recovery is that it has taught me how to be a man, a responsible man, one who takes care of his family, keeps a roof over their head and food on the table. It has shown me to be caring and unselfish, to love those who are still in the struggle, and to reach out my hand and say, ‘Let me give you a hand.’”

Today, Cedar House is blessed beyond measure to have Enrique as an Outpatient Case Manager.  We wish he could have enjoyed the carefree, drug-free childhood that everyone deserves, but we are so grateful for the man he has become – thanks, in large part, to his life-changing experience at Cedar House.  Now, with almost ten years of sobriety, Enrique shares his story of recovery and spends his days dedicated to helping others avoid the hardships he faced growing up in a world of addiction.