Substance Abuse and recovery story with Fatih Penda – The Mindful Space
Hi, everyone. This is your host, Michelle, and you’re listening to The Mindful Podcast, the show that aims to break the stigma associated with mental health. Today we will be talking about drug addiction, stages of recovery, and the importance of support groups with Fati Panda, who is the director of intensive outpatient services at a detox clinic in Florida. Hi, everyone. Welcome back to the Mindful Podcast. Today we have Fati with us. How are you? Good. How are? Good. Good. Tell me well, tell our audience a little bit about yourself professionally and personally. Okay, so my name start there. My name is Fati. I come from a different background. I come from a cultured home raised by parents that were Muslim and that were, you know, my mother’s from Turkey, my dad’s from Greece, and that’s why I’ve gotten the name Fatih. It’s really fate, but people call me Fati. It’s a lot easier. How do you say it? Fate. Fate. Yeah. It has a cool thing. It actually means to conquer. You should definitely say that then. I used to, but now I just you’re over it. Yeah. I get called a lot of things because people butcher my name. So I just kind of tell everybody to call me T. Just makes it really easy. Okay. Aka t. Yeah. All right, well, I know we are here today to talk about your journey to recovery. How did it all start? Take us back to the beginning. So I guess it started, I’d say, like, feeling different, maybe that’s kind of like one thing that stands out. And the reason it stands out is because I am in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, and one time I was sharing, and there was a person that raised their hand after, and they said, the thing that stuck out to me is how you said you always felt different. All my life, I felt different too. So it was hard for me to fit in. And I think that part I don’t know if my family even realizes this, but being named the way my name was, which was very different, I always felt like an outsider. So growing up, I think I just had this outside feeling. And as middle school came, it was harder and harder, more humiliating, more embarrassing. Teachers making fun of people, making fun of the way teachers pronounce your name. Then by the time a teacher got your name down, it would almost be the middle of the year, and you’d have a substitute teacher come in. And I would be so embarrassed. I would say, I’m going to the bathroom and not come back sometimes. So it was always this disposition of not feeling part of or included or amongst. I also believe it’s family genes. And I think some of my family does have some addiction behaviors, whether it be alcoholism or other things, gambling, whatever it is, there is roots to it, too. So I think I started to realize and see a lot of that as I was in 7th to eigth grade, because I started to see the tendencies of myself and how I enjoy. Just one example is we would have these parties where there’d be family and family friends, and the adults would all be drinking and as kids would be put in the back room or whatever. And we would always have little coffee cups of Uzo or Rucka, which is a liquor, and it would kind of put you down and kind of make you want to sleep. And they did that for a reason. And I would actually like it and the other kids wouldn’t like it, and me and my one other cousin would actually take theirs and drink it. So it was like those little attic behaviors. And that was at twelve years old, you said. I would say around there. Yeah. Okay. So it started as a little and get together, as family gets together, it’s probably due to the culture, correct? Correct. And then it continue to go until you were in high school. And it escalated how quickly? I would say within two years. So from after 8th grade. Like that going into your freshman year, where everybody really starts to experiment and stuff. I didn’t get that. I had to go to Turkey for the summer and then the whole year to stay out there for school. But as soon as I got back, it was like lights out. I was just all go, all gas. And it escalated very quickly. Yeah. Was your family aware of what you were going through? So it’s weird because I’m sure you understand cultural backgrounds. They may understand, but they look the other way. They don’t want to understand. There was limited education as is back then on it. It was frowned on. And then having the cultural background and being Muslim, it’s not really like a thing to talk about or a thing to advertise. Like if your kid has a problem, you fix it and you keep it quiet. It’s the old school way, okay? You don’t talk about it. And so I think they had a hard time accepting it. What was your drug of choice? Did it escalate? Did it go from weed to cocaine to crack? So, yeah, so my drug of choice was it’s weird because I get asked this question by people like I have people that know, sponsor in AA and stuff, and it’s crazy. I’ll always say crack because whenever I smoked crack, my life would become completely unmanageable. I would not sleep, not eat, I would rob, steal. I’ve been in so many confrontations with the law over it just been held at knife point because I’ve done wrongful stuff to get more money and just weird chaotic situations that you hear about in movies and you’re like, this doesn’t sound real. So I’d say crack. But I always was on pain pills or benzodiazepines and drinking. It all came with it, it never really mattered. Was there anything that triggered you to start doing drugs? I don’t know. Any family events? Any depression or what was your trigger? To just continue to abuse the drugs. So to continue to abuse, I think I was finding any and every trigger. So high school girlfriend broke up with me. All the love of my life broke up. Like, we have a house and a family full of kids and she left me and I’m using. I’m a sophomore in high school, but it was a good reason for me to use. And that’s why I go back to the name thing, because I always felt different and felt out of place. So I feel like that was almost one of the reasons, but I didn’t even know it just not feeling part of, like, that group know, joe, Rob, Michael, all these kids hanging out. It’s not fatigue’s table at lunch, you know what mean? So, like, that was almost a reason to use. I was hanging out with the kids who were getting expelled and suspended and going in the woods and taking acid in the middle of the day during high school. So I feel like in a way, I just kind of fit suit with the bad boys. Okay, so that was my reason, because it was expected almost to use. Yeah. Did you think that was the only group you belonged to? Yeah, I did. I thought that was the only group that accepted me, to be honest. I never thought, like, I could hang out with those other kids, nor would their parents let me in their house if they knew, like no. Yeah, not him. Not accepted. He drops acid in the middle of the day. Not him. No, he’s not allowed. Wow. So at what point was there a turning point for you? At what point did you I know you had different periods where you stopped and then you went back to it. Yeah, so it’s weird. I’m going to tie all this in somehow. So when I wasn’t smoking crack, I was on a methadone clinic, and then I would get kicked out of a methadone clinic because I would fail for benzodiazepines, and then I would end up smoking crack until I figured out how I was going to get back to a doctor or a methadone clinic. Which gives you basically you’re handcuffed to this, going every morning, getting a liquid dose of methadone back then, and you’re good for the whole day. You don’t get sick, but you feel woozy. And then if you take some benzos, you even feel better. But if you fail the drug test and you’re not prescribed, you get kicked out. Right. So I think I had a couple opportunities. I mean, I’ve rolled over two cars, I’ve crashed into telephone poles, falling asleep, leaving these methadone clinics and stuff. And none of that was really a turning point or so to say rock bottom. It’s not so much Baker acted, it’s so much as my parents sent me overseas when I was 22. And we’re like, we need to get him out of here. He’s using abusing. We need him out of here. Send him to Turkey, to his uncles. Right. So he won’t know anybody. He won’t find anything. Well, that’s the wrong thing to do. So, I mean, I’ve been to mental wards in third world countries like that, where you’re literally in padded rooms and you literally get put in a stray jacket when you act out and get put in a room and you’re on, like a table where your arms, your ankles, your chest, all have straps and your forehead has a strap so you can like in the movies. Yeah, it was. And you paid for it? That’s what’s crazy. My parents paid American dollars for it. Oh, my God. Yeah, they paid, like, 20 grand for, like, three different stays. How long did you have to stay there? One time I think it was like, 30 days, and then another time I think it was even longer. I mean, to be honest, as long as they were telling them, we’re going to pay, please keep them, they didn’t know. Nobody knew. And when you’re in a third world country and you overdose on Xanax and you start grabbing machetes and telling your uncles you want to be blood brothers, the only thing left to do is call yes. Strain jacket. Get him in a stray jacket. Get him out of here. He’s losing his mind. And we don’t know. Like, he the demons. Take over. Now, all that isn’t even rock bottom. But it’s crazy because then in 2005, I was shot by the police. Oh, my God. Yeah, it was like something you hear out of the movies. I was shot by a drug task force agent. I woke up in a hospital room. I had, like my arm was in a sling. My left arm was in a sling. I was handcuffed to the bed. My dad was at the end of the bed reading the Quran. And you had two detectives and you had correctional officers at the door. And when I woke up, the first thing that came to my mind was, like, Carlito’s Way. I thought it was, like, a gangster. I was like, Holy shit, this is amazing. Like, the street you thought it was cool? I thought it was cool. Oh, my God. When other people would say, like, I can’t believe I’m alive, and I didn’t stop either then. So my rock bottom honestly came around 2014. Took me from 2005 to 2014. It took me a whole lot more of lessons to learn with the law, with people getting married, overdosing with my ex wife, like, just all this crazy mayhem stuff. Oh, my God. You got shot, you overdosed, you lost your wife, career, family, family, business, everything. And what was your rock bottom that actually made you go seek for help. So I think it was the ex wife. I was living in Atlanta, and when I was in Atlanta, Georgia, I went there, and I thought I was going to cure myself. I brought 30 Suboxans, which is like an mat drug. It’s to help you wean off. And I went down there and visited a girl I knew. And I stayed down there. I never came back. I kind of just put like boston was like history to me. I got to get out of here. So I put it behind me. I left, and when I started, I found a pain management clinic in Georgia because my friends were FedExing me what I needed to get by in Georgia. So they’d send me, like, a week worth of Roxy’s. I’d send them Western unions or whatever. So after a while, I found a pain management clinic in Georgia. Like one of them fake ones that was on a second floor. No elevator, only stairs. Nobody was injured. Everybody was just using it to get their meds and sell them. It’s like those pill mills. But they were in Georgia, and I think my rock bottom started coming. There was I was a driver for drug dealers. When their cars broke down, I was hanging out in trap houses. When I say trap houses, I watch 48 Hours on the ID Channel, and I tell my current wife. I’m like, I can’t believe I didn’t end up on the show. We were behind some houses, boarded up windows, and the landlord was a homeless guy that just stayed there. And they would play horseshoes with rusty horseshoes in the back and metal trash barrels with fire because the winter is kind of cold in Atlanta, and they’d have fire coming out of that, and they’d all be hanging out. Everybody have their guns on their hips, just gangsters and all the you know, I call them fiends now because I was one of them. We’d just all show up looking for our fix, and I would camp out there because I had a car. They let me hang out because I’d come, and they thought I was crazy. I was the only kid with a Red Sox hat, Red Sox hoodie. I’d just show up, have my own gun in my hand, have money in my hand, too. And they’d say he can hang out. They’d say you have to pay rent. That’s what they’d tell me. I didn’t know what there was. So I basically have to give the landlord, the guy who was homeless that lived there. I’d have to give him a piece of whatever I bought, plus I’d have to throw him a couple of bucks. But the landlord wasn’t even the official landlord. He was just the homeless who took over the property. Yeah, the trap. So that was kind of like when I was getting to that rock bottom point. And I think bottom came when because I’ve had multiple overdoses tubes down my throat, waking up, throwing up, all sorts of crazy stuff. But I think down in Georgia, when I had no family support, nothing, and my ex wife found me in the bathtub, and it was like flooding and had a needle in my arm and a plate full of crack and pills and everything. And I locked myself in the bathroom, and she was like she woke me up and called her brother in law. And they took me to emergency room and then took me they said, you got to go to treatment. They took me to the airport, made me go to treatment. Straight to treatment. Yeah. And I took the suggestion of, like, I’ll go to treatment as long as we can work on our marriage. And she said, yeah, that’s fine. And then when I was in my treatment, a whole bunch of stuff revealed, and we just got divorced. And I did it all in treatment because it was a safe place. And you know what? It’s crazy, because now that I think about it, that wasn’t even rock bottom. I left treatment, came to Florida, and when I was in Florida, I overdosed after I did a little stint here. And I got baker acted here. And I think that was my final draw. Wow. So after all that, you still came back and tried to do a little bit more, just a little more to try to get away, and so you got Baker acted here officially. Baker acted in broward. Yeah. How was that experience? Not pleasant. That’s not pleasant down there. And especially help you at all. Yeah, it did, because I think down there, they’re sick of it. The hospitals see so many baker acts. And just having this guy next to me that was eating a cereal, and he was just, like, pouring it over his shoulder and chewing nothing but air, but he thought he’s eating a cereal. And I think when I woke up, I just saw the nurse next to me grab his spoon while he was going to his mouth and just, like, shove it down his mouth, the way she treated him. And then she yelled like, jimmy, are you ever going to do the lauded again? And I was, like, freaked out because I didn’t know where I was. Yeah. And I just remember hearing and seeing that and saying to myself, man, this is sad. And then I said, I’m sad. Look at my situation. I don’t want to be like Jimmy. Yeah. Like, I’m right next to him. What makes me different? This is my bet. If I keep doing this, I’ll be right back here with Jimmy. Yeah. So that was kind of my rock bottom. That was when you realized all that you had to lose. You know why I realized it, Michelle, is the truth be told, is because I overdosed on my prescription pills that were not even narcotics. Oh, really? Yeah, they were just simple gabapentin. They were muscle relaxers. Somewhat of a muscle relaxer. And I heard if you took enough of those and you drank a bunch of monsters or Red Bulls at the same time, that you could get a buzz. And I was chasing a buzz. Oh, my God. So I ate, like, 32 of them. 32. My nervous system shut down. And, like did it ever go through your mind that you might overdose? No, I didn’t even care. That wasn’t even a concern. Not even. My sister asked me that one time, were you ever scared you were going to die? Yeah. Said, no. You were just chasing the high? I was more worried that I wasn’t going to get high enough. That was what I was scared of. That I couldn’t get high enough? Yeah. Wasn’t that I was going to die. That’s crazy. So at any point ever, were you scared of dying? I don’t think so. No. Because even when I got out of situations, like when I woke up from an overdose, you know what’s crazy? Even a better thought process just crossed my brain of what I did. Because we talked about the getting shot. I had hidden a pill bottle full of Xanax and Clonapins and oxies back then in my apartment that I was living in. And as soon as I got out of, I was facing assault and battery with attempted murder on a police officer. I got handcuffed in a bed, getting driven to jail like a high end criminal. And the judge allowed us to post bail, so we posted the 17,500. The first thing I told my mom was, I need to go back to the apartment. She’s like, Honey, they just removed, like, tape. They were searching and everything. I knew they weren’t going to find what I hid, so I made my mother go there and not come in, and I went in and found those pills. My brain was that sick. Not that wow. I could be facing 25 to life. Yes. I just need to get my stash. I need to get my stash. Wow. So nowadays, right? How are you doing nowadays? How has your journey of healing been? So I’d like to say awesome. Unbelievable. Because it is. But of course, we all have life challenges and we go up and down. So it’s a roller coaster. It’s up and down with a lot of highs and some lows. The best part of it is I’m sober and I can handle all of it. And sometimes I’m more erratic or irrational or whatever the wording is. I’m super high strung about things, and sometimes I’m able to brush them off. But I have a wife. I’ve been married almost seven years. I have a stepson. I’ve been in his life for over six years, about seven years. I have two of my own children who are five and three. I have three dogs. I have a house. If everybody looks at my life, they go, oh my God, I drive a nice car, my wife drives, I have a great job. Everybody be like, holy shit, how is he an addict? Yeah, they wouldn’t believe it. No. Then I just tell them to Google me real quick. I do that to clients. Google criminal real quick. I just say, Google my first and last name, and they’re like, holy shit. I read the story like, oh my God, I saw what are some of the treatments or techniques that helped you get through this? You mentioned you go to AA meetings, so yeah, AA, to be honest with you, I think acceptance is huge. Right? So when we start to accept that we need help, any kind of treatment is going to help. At that point, in my eyes, it’s about you and accepting the fact that you need help. Right? So I took the AA route, but I also went to treatment for some time. But here’s the thing. I did 90 days of Scientology and I got nowhere with it. I left and relapsed within 30 minutes. Right? And then I also did just like 35 days or whatever it was, of just regular inpatient, but no real work was done. It was almost like an oil change. So when I left there, everybody was putting in work, and I didn’t put in any work. I didn’t pray, I didn’t call on God, I didn’t go to meetings, I didn’t call sober supports. I didn’t even admit that I was an addict. So to me, I think if you’re asking treatment wise, I always tell people right now, I am the director of an IOP for the recovery team. So to me, I got sober in IOP. I didn’t get sober in detox, residential, PHP, all those levels of care. I got sober at IOP because there’s a couple factors. I was learning to become a productive member of society with a bunch of other people and not taking any alcohol or mood altering substances. So I had to learn how to open a bank account. I had to learn how to just the basics. The basics. Rebuild your credit. Just like functioning, getting a job, building a resume. Yeah. So to me, I love that component of treatment, like IOP intensive outpatient service, because to me, I look at it as that’s where I get to see people grow. Like right now, I watch people grow. It’s also a part where you see people fail because some people don’t make think. I think between IOP and a program of AA or NA is the way I like it. Yeah. Does it trigger you at all when some of your clients or people you work with don’t make it or don’t get better? They don’t want to get better. Some deaths trigger me. Okay? Not making it, not wanting to make not wanting to make it frustrates me. Not making it hurts me. Death saddens me, but I had to experience something on my way over here, so I kind of help with the housing component, and I had to remove a client from housing and let them know that they were not a good fit for the housing and that they weren’t probably a good fit for the program. And in my eyes, I thought I was making the right decision. But I’m driving over here, and I’m like, Man, I wish I could call my because I do therapy too. I’m like, I wish I call my therapist is because this is weighing on me. There’s a 19 year old patient that I’m telling can no longer be with us because they’re starting to become a little cancerous, and they have broken rules multiple times now. So now my burden is, what if this kid relapses? How would I feel if something like that happens and if they don’t make it? Yeah, so it’s a life and death thing. But to be in the program, what is it that you have to follow? Or how do you qualify to be a member of so you don’t get kicked out of the program like this kid? So following rules is one. Not using is two. Being just compliant is kind of certain people just have a hard time following rules, and then it’s, like, bad for everybody. You have an environment in the community you’re trying to protect. That’s true. And you can’t leave a cancer just running around. It’s like a domino’s effect. Yeah. Like you say, if they don’t want the help, there’s only so much you can do. If you don’t help yourself, then no one can really help you. Realistically, what about when we have a family member that’s the addict and the addict just keeps being that person, not following rules, maybe stealing from their parents? What can you tell somebody that’s going through that? Any advice? Don’t enable. I guess a turning point in my journey was when my mom stopped letting me back. Okay? So when I called her in 2014, I was like, hey, I’m leaving treatment. I got divorced. I have nowhere to go. I’m coming back home. She’s like? Where’s? Home. So the biggest thing was her shutting that down. So if there’s a family member or anybody out there that does have someone, they’re dealing. It’s very hard, but there’s a lot of support groups out there. I know Alanon is a big one. People love it or hate it, but there’s, like, Learn to Cope out of Massachusetts, which is where I’m from. But the number one thing is you can be there and help your loved one die by keep on enabling. Or you can say no and stop enabling, and they could still die. Who knows? It’s really hard. You’re in a hard position. It’s hard. I don’t know. Sometimes I talk to Moms and Dads, and I don’t know what to tell them, but I just tell them stop enabling. Don’t answer the phone if it hurts that much. Don’t send them any more money. Yeah, I know. Some people, it might be too hard for them, so they keep enabling because then they feel like they’re responsible, too. What if something happens? It’s the unknown, the fear of the unknown. It’s like, yeah, but if they keep using, they could still die. Yeah. If you keep helping, they still die. If you don’t keep helping, they could still die. It’s a very hard spot to be in. Yeah. People ask me, like, what are you going to do if your kid’s an addict? I don’t know. I’m probably going to handcuff him, take him to Idaho, to a potato farm, and just like, wait till he sobers up. I know. And nowadays, everybody’s just trying everything at an earlier age. So what do you do? How do you keep up? That’s how I think about it, too. Like what drugs? What? How are we going to keep up? Back in the day, it was mostly weed. Now there’s, like thousands and thousands, and even prescribed black market all these black market pills, they get a big surgery or something, and they get Oxy, Percocet. They don’t even know what it is. And then they get hooked into it. Yeah. I mean, it’s simple. I had open heart surgery about 14 months ago. First time I had to take prescription meds in my recovery, and I almost smoked crack. Again, a lot of people don’t know that I’ll share it, but yeah, I was hiding pain pills from my wife. I was maneuvering weird in the house. A couple of friends were calling me out, like, you’re acting real strange. You’re acting real weird. Okay. And I had told the doctors up front I’m an ex addict. You did tell them? Yeah. And they still prescribed you? They had to prescribe me a little. And plus, once you’re in the hospital after open heart surgery, they give you the drip, the morphine. It’s morphine, but it’s stronger. It’s Dilauded. Okay, so Dilauded, it starts with a D because it’s the demon. Once that thing gets in you, it’s like every manipulation took over. I manipulated the doctors. I manipulated everybody. Give me more. Not every six, every 4 hours. Not ten milligrams, 30 milligrams. But again, you asked me treatment, so now I’m thinking about that. What saved me was I went back to a Men’s meeting. And I know this is weird because I’m like advertising AA, and it’s not supposed to be like that, but it works for me. So I went there and I raised my hand, and I humbled myself, and I was like, I’m having trouble. And, like, five guys came up to me. They gave me their phone numbers. They checked in on me. You had support. And then people that know what you went through, because they have also gone through it, it makes a difference. I’m sure you get. That kind of feedback from the people that you work with. Right? Because you’re able to build that rapport sharing your own personal story. Do they almost prefer that? Yeah. And sometimes they have people, they’re like, hey, call for tea. Like fatigue. I have someone calling you, like, this kid’s going through he’s got to get his arm operated on or something. Like, yeah, sure, let me talk to him. Let’s help him out. Let’s prep them a little bit. That’s great. So part of your job is to recruit them, but you also make sure that they’re following the right path. Not so much recruit them. That’s a bad way to word it, but what is the right word? So a lot of people call me to see if I’ll take a client for aftercare, okay. So they’ll see if my facility is accepting clients for aftercare at the recovery team. Like, are you guys taking any IOP? Do you have any client beds open? Blah, blah. But my job is very weird because today I was ordering food for clients. I took a client grocery shopping myself just to build rapport. I went and ran a house meeting. I drove the van to the gas station because I had no gas and just got gas for it to help out. But then I’m in my office writing emails back to higher ups, chiefs and corporate and different things. I think I’m like a Swiss army knife because I love chaos. Okay? So I get my hands involved in everything. You need to be on everything in order to be content. Stimulated, I call it. Stimulated. That’s a good word nowadays. How does your family see all of your experience or what you went through? My kids don’t know. Okay. My wife doesn’t ever want me to tell them. Okay. But I think I have to at some point not to. Eventually you will. Yeah. Not like all the why is your knuckle have stitches with leg? This I’m not going to talk about all the stuff that’s happened, but I think at some point, I have to let them know dad was an alcoholic when they get older, so that they understand, like, they can’t get away with shit. Okay. But I think my wife was scared to look me up, but her sisters did, and then she ended up doing it. But she trusted me, and she didn’t care to read up on it too much. Okay, but what’s really crazy is, like, yesterday we were at my in laws, or Friday we’re at my in laws. Like, my mother in law’s purse was, like, on a and I’m almost over seven years clean. Her purse was just wide open next to me. She had medications on the counter. And I’m thinking to myself, holy shit. Like, seven and a half years ago, I’d had a field. Where was this seven years ago? That’s what I was thinking. My head. But it’s just like then I think, I can’t believe people trust me. I can’t believe I have people that trust me with my kids. Like, today I’m here. It’s almost whatever time at night. My wife trusts me. She doesn’t question me. I told her, hey, I have a game at 09:00 too. It’s fine. Don’t worry. Yeah, it’s crazy because I never had that before. Yeah, it’s still weird for you people to trust you. At one point, did you even trust yourself? Never. Really? Yeah. I still don’t some days you’re like, I’m still struggling. I’m still not trusting myself. Yeah, well, compared to ten years ago, I’m sure there’s a big difference. No, of course. I think today, the way my wife looks at it, she’s always proud of me. She always says, you work very hard. Like, you come a long way. It doesn’t go unseen. I just think she always says, like, oh, I don’t want to feed your ego either. Everybody else already knows that. I’m like, all right. I’m so confused. Pick a side. Yeah, I just want to hear it from you. I don’t care about them. That’s a girl thing. I get it. Oh, my God. But that’s amazing. That’s an incredible story. And the fact that you’re able to share it with people on this level, social platforms, but then on one on one with the people that you’re helping, that must be very rewarding for you. It’s probably my biggest therapy, just walking through, shaking hands. I know all the clients that are at the aftercare program by their first name. I meet everyone when they come in on an intake, and that’s a lot of things that I wasn’t doing in my career. And a couple of people that I used to mentorship from told me, stay on the floor, work with these people, be on the ground level. And I realized, why do I got to act like I’m better then or be at a higher table? So now that I get to sit with them, I’m like, you guys don’t realize how much you guys are helping me more than I’m helping, you know? So it’s really cool. It really is. You get to see the growth, too. They come in, they got nothing. You take them grocery shopping, they go into a house, they need some stuff from Walgreens. You get them some underwear and different things, and all of a sudden, you watch these kids get in a car getting their own. The other day, a kid called me and said they’re going to get a call for a reference for an apartment. Can you just not tell them it was a halfway house that we lived at? Me and blah, blah, blah. I’m like, yeah, of course I’m happy for you. Yeah, it’s really cool. Okay. No, that’s amazing. I mean, I would feel very proud of my client. Well, when my clients do any kind of progress, I feel very proud. I can’t imagine those kind of transitions and the simple things in life we take for granted, like food shopping, opening a bank account. Those are things we do when we’re in high school. We get taught college. You need to learn how to cook. If not, you’re not going to survive. Right. And for them, they’re what? Thirty s. Forty s. The demographics changes. Today’s was a 19 year old kid that we had to remove from the program, but it goes up to, like, 60, and some of these 60 year olds have no clue how to call in Social Security or whatever. They haven’t done it, or they were just drunk when they were doing, and they don’t remember how to do it. Yeah. It’s like you have to make them go back into society at the same level that everybody is, and everybody else has been doing it for years, and they’re just getting into it. That’s crazy. It’s probably harder for them to be like, oh, I’m asking this guy this. Yeah, but that’s what I’m saying. I’m sure it helps because you can relate. Like, you literally went through the same know, I think they respect that more, too, to be honest. Because sometimes they come to me with certain things, and I’m like, I’m not a clinician. And they’re like, yeah, but the clinician’s not even in recovery. And I’m like, all right, let’s do AA talk. Come in here. It’s like, Listen, the clinician is going to help you with certain mental health tools. I’m going to talk to you about streets and the real talk. That’s what I tell them. I’m like, I’m not going to talk to you from a clinical level of what you need to hear, but I’m going to tell you what I yeah, I still have the crave. I get it. It’s normal. Once in a while, it pops up. It never goes away. Yeah, it comes up randomly. That’s why you keep going to Ae meetings. Yeah, I stay active. That’s a forever thing. It’s definitely a forever thing. How consistent and how often always changes. Sometimes I’m in every week for, like, four or five weeks straight, and then people are like, hey, we haven’t seen you in three months. And I’m like, yeah. They’re like, what happened? I’m like nothing. The kids, I coached them. And soccer. I’m busy now. I’m busy again. Are you too busy to stay? So they bust my chops. So you got to go back for one meeting, at least start showing more face. And then I realized, I’m here. You know, one funny thing is what? I always text my wife whenever I go to a meeting, I always text her, like, 45 minutes into it, I go, I can’t believe this. I’m so grateful and happy I came, because I get goosebumps. And then we all sit there and pray together, and at the end, it’s just like this unreal feeling like nobody support. Yeah. It’s crazy. Yeah. And then you get to see other people, too, that are still going. I see people that come back. I see the guy that just walked in one day ago. It’s really nice. It keeps you grounded. You remember where you come from, and you remember, this is family right here. Yeah. That’s great. Yeah, that’s awesome. All great stories. I loved your conversation. Thank you. Is there anything else? Any last message you want to tell our audience about recovery or just your journey? Yeah, there is one thing. So I always thought about it, like, how embarrassing it is no one else is doing it. Getting sober is for the weak. Asking for help is for not for men stigmas. Yeah. So all that’s false. There is sober supports networks. There’s apps, there’s treatments all over the place now, if you Google it, I mean, getting sober isn’t for weak people. It’s actually for the strongest of the people out there. And it’s possible. Like, recovery is possible because I never knew it was possible, because no one ever showed me it was possible. Hence why I like to speak up about what I do, how I speak out about what program I work, because I really think the more people hear it, the more they look and go, well, he’s doing it. It’s believable, it’s doable. That’s what helped me. So I always want to say, it’s out there. It’s available, and a lot of people are doing it. Yeah. If he can do it, I can do it. That’s my motto. Yeah. And times have changed before, I’m sure back in your day, it wasn’t really talked about mental health, addiction, drugs. Now, I mean, we’re in a podcast talking about it. It’s crazy. 2022 Wild. Oh, my God. Yeah. Well, thank you so much for sharing your story. I know it takes a lot, and yeah, welcome back anytime. Thank you. I appreciate it. Thank you guys for tuning in. And don’t forget to follow and subscribe and leave me a comment much. Thank you. Thank you.