From Despairing Addict to Successful Entrepreneur

I snuck my first drink at ten, after seeing how much fun my father seemed to have when he drank. I discovered that alcohol made all my inhibitions disappear. That felt great. I quickly got hooked.

By age 15, I was smoking pot, hanging with the wrong crowd and skipping school. My parents moved to Naples from Illinois to give me a fresh start. But it backfired. I felt intense rage over the move, refused to go to school, and started selling drugs.

But I was in over my head. At 19, I was brought to the Crisis Stabilization Unit at David Lawrence Centers after a two-day bender during which I was brutally attacked and robbed by another drug dealer. The beating left me with frontal lobe damage, which I believe caused my addiction and mental health to become exponentially worse.

Over the next ten years, I landed in jail more than twelve times. My relationship with my father was nonexistent and my mother lived in a constant state of anguish and worry about me. Every day started with vodka, as I popped opioid pain pills and fell even deeper into drug-dealing.

Then I had a chance to change my life. I agreed to enter the Collier County Drug Court program, and chose treatment to avoid a six-year prison sentence. But I struggled to get clean. I had a physical allergy to the drugs but would mentally go crazy without them.

I entered David Lawrence Center’s Crossroads addictions recovery program as a condition of staying in Drug Court – and never looked back. I’ve been sober ever since. Crossroads was the turning point for me. They were truly invested in seeing me succeed. They loved me unconditionally until I loved myself.

Once discharged, I started helping in the St. Matthew’s House kitchen and learned about food. In time, I helped launch their catering service. I managed everything from sales and marketing to fundraisers. Then I was given the opportunity to train with local chef, Brian Roland, and I helped him build his successful catering business, Crave Culinaire.

Today, with five years of sobriety under my belt, a clear head and business skills, I’m building my own home maintenance business. I stay sober through my strong faith, remaining engaged in the recovery community, and giving back by fundraising and volunteering for David Lawrence Centers . I’ve found tremendous success both personally and professionally, and I believe I owe my life to David Lawrence Centers .

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