Addiction Treatment that Works!
My time at Habilitat
A life saved and infinitely more blessings…
I just wanted to share a couple of thoughts with anyone at all who may be interested. Habilitat is addiction treatment that works! Long before I came to Habilitat, when I was in the throes of my addiction, I would measure the state of my life each Christmas that passed and I would ask myself where I was on that day as compared with the year before.
More than anything, Habilitat showed me I was worth something. DavidEvery year, for over eight years straight, the bitter answer I had to accept was that my life only grew darker and darker. Each year I grew more and more despondent as I realized yet another year had gone by and I was even further down the deep well of misery I had put myself in. Every Christmas was filled with a profound sense of loneliness, sadness and despair. I would curse God for this affliction he gave me. I felt that I was destined to die a junkie. People have different functions in life: some are doctors, some are lawyers, some are teachers…some are drug addicts and they are destined to die as drug addicts. That was me. That was who I believed I was supposed to be. By the time I had endured my ninth year of addiction, I had already been through four short to medium-term residential treatment programs never achieving more than four days clean after any of them. I was convinced beyond any doubt whatsoever that I would never, ever have a life worth living. The only question was how much more suffering would I have to endure until my tortured life would finally be over.
The words of one particular staff member assigned to me at my second stint in treatment in Kansas still echo in my mind as if it were yesterday. Responding to my desire that I wanted to leave the program, she said to me very matter of factly, “you’re one of the addicts that dies from their addiction! I’ve seen people like you come and go and I’ve seen them end up dead.
As a professor in higher education and counselor and friend of Habilitat in a number of ways, the program has been extremely beneficial to me.Dr. GaryThat’s the very sad reality of who you are and what your life has become. What are you going to do about it?” Well, within a few days of hearing those words I did indeed walk out against medical advice. Almost immediately, I then went through another six month program which I did complete but after which I stayed clean for those four days I referred to earlier. Then another program, six weeks this time which, I again completed even though I was using and clocking the drug tests to avoid detection while I was in there. Two weeks after that, I was admitted to an intensive care unit comatose after a massive heroin overdose. I stayed in that coma for more than three days. The doctors had told my parents while they were standing over my lifeless body that I may live or I may die, it was fifty-fifty. I did actually flat-line, twice, and was revived twice.
I’ve just written this prelude for one reason and one reason alone. To reach people who may be suffering the way I was and for them to not naively think that only they know what it’s like to live this kind of life. They need to understand the utter depth of despair and hopelessness I felt. It was absolute sheer agony. It was horrible and horrific. I know what it’s like to wake up every day and to wish to God that I didn’t! I know what it’s like to constantly imagine putting a bullet in my head and to actually be able to imagine the relief that might come with that. I know what it’s like to drive down the road and every tree, light post or bridge I drove past represented a possible end if I would just veer the steering wheel in that direction. It would be over…it would finally be over.
Well, here I am today, eight years removed from that life, healthy and incredibly happy, living a life full of hope, full of truth, full of meaningful relationships and brimming with fulfillment. Habilitat helped me to achieve all of this. I am convinced that if I never stepped foot in that facility I would be existing only as a memory in my tortured parent’s minds with only a headstone to commemorate my miserable life. To say I am eternally and infinitely indebted to Habilitat is a gross understatement. Habilitat remains to be probably the single most profound experience I have ever had. For people like me, Habilitat was my ONLY hope and I didn’t even know it at the time. It would take time and it would take work but the specter of hope would only grow as long as I fed it.
To live free of the handcuffs of drug addiction is remarkably easy once all the hard work is done. To get to that point I had to walk through some dark tunnels filled with mirrors showing me exactly who I was and what I had become. Once my conscience came back it was very hard to look at myself but I had no choice. I was tired of wanting to die. I was tired of being so hopeless and afraid. I was tired of being a source of agony for good people who had no choice in the decisions I made. The change took time and it needed to take time. I needed to confront different aspects of who I had become. I needed to continuously confront my self-doubts and I needed to wage the war between the different characters that now lived within me. I did finally make it through and the biggest surprise to me would be my realization of just how much I had changed and how much strength I had within me. I did have the power to make choices in my life and that I never, ever had to revisit my past again. So what is the ultimate answer, for me at least?
It’s as simple (and as difficult sometimes) as just doing the next right thing. Honesty is the basis of my mental and emotional health. Without secrets there is no conscience to bear guilt and so there is no guilt to promote negative self-esteem, and so there is no negative self-esteem to make the specter of getting high more alluring. I treat myself well, I treat others well, I make my word mean something, I don’t lie, I don’t cheat, I don’t steal and I treasure what I once lost but somehow was lucky to be entrusted again with. Very shortly after leaving Habilitat the most surprising and liberating thing of all was that I almost never, ever thought about getting high. As the years have gone by, those thoughts have faded far, far away. I feel an internal strength where I can say with the utmost conviction that I will never experience those days again. I will always remain a junkie though because my mind will never forget who I was for so many years. That person is still there within reach and just a handful of poor decisions away. I am not worried; I am not worried at all. I return to the place that gave me life every year and I will continue to return every year until my time on this earth is over. I may never know what my true purpose on this earth is but I DO know what it isn’t! I definitely was not made to be a junkie or to die a junkie…
Induction day: January 14 2002
Graduation day: May 17 2004
More than anything, Habilitat showed me I was worth something. When I entered the program I had very, very low self esteem and I just wanted my life to end. The friends I made and the sense of accomplishment Habilitat gave me helped me realize how much there is in life to really enjoy. It has helped bring my family back together. I can’t say enough about Habilitat and how much my experience there means to me.
Thank you for all Habilitat has done for me, yes I still run’um hard Hab. style; always in search of some thing better for me and my family and the higher standards of living, I must say that the training that every one receives is a vital part of out every day living, and for myself that’s what I choose.
I have been chosen for employee of the month and now employee of the quarter which in the Hospitality Industry is a huge honor and now just got promoted on Friday to head Engineer under my Chief. I was never a people person but because of the situations that I have been placed in there at Habilitat, forced me to step out of my comfort zone and now years later I am reaping the benefits.
I am working at a job that I love in an industry I never thought I would be successful at, always learning more improving and challenging myself to do better. The one thing I need to keep in mind always is that I had the “Habilitat” training and that we are truly a step above the so called “Normal People” running circles around them in all aspects of life, I don’t share my past voluntarily but if and when asked I tell them how much of a jerk I was to my family and friends due to the drug abuse, how I did a little time in jail and that what they see in me now is a product of Habilitat, I gotta admit that going through the program was hard but now I see that it was what I was lacking in life, simple direction, guidance and a different way of thinking.
There’s one thing that I constantly keep in front of me and will always be real is remembering where I came from, where I been and where I am at now July 25 2005 will be five years since I used drugs and for me is a huge accomplishment and some thing I am proud of once again Jeff thanks to you the staff and all my friends that I still keep in touch with cause we still pull raps, thats what friends are for right? Tell the guy’s sitting on the floor that at this point I would give anything to trade places with them dishpan, contract or corner I need a time out seriously… tell the family I said hi and if you have grads planning on coming up to Seattle send them my way see if we can put them to work.
Habilitat is addiction treatment that works. My name is Johnnalyn and I began using crystal meth 22 years ago. My meth use took many avenues throughout my years of using. I was a dealer for many years and could no longer maintain my status of dealing, because I got deeper and began smoking everything. Eventually, I started boosting to provide my daily habits. Nothing could or would stop my downward spiral into the meth death grip. I have four beautiful children and you would think that it would be enough, to make me stop. Well, it wasn’t. As my smoking habit increased, so did my boosting. It was so bad, that I ended up in prison again and labeled as a repeat offender. Now reality is kicking in because, I was facing some years. My attorney advised me to call Habilitat because it would look good on my behalf. The judge was considering giving me a lesser sentence for taking the initiative to get help. I wrote a letter to Habilitat and a week later, got a visit from the induction supervisor. My intention was to get to Habilitat to runaway; not to get help. May 27, 2002 was when I entered the program. Talk about cultural shock, I was in for something that I thought was way over my head. It was a tough program, but the toughest thing is facing yourself. Habilitat is not like other programs. It is very UNIQUE and stringent. The only way to reside there, is to foster CHANGE. I have been clean and sober for almost 8 years now. I am most grateful that I made the decision of sticking it out. They have taught me a lot and how to challenge myself when the going gets tough. If you take advantage of everything Habilitat has to offer, you will make it. However, you must be honest in order to succeed. Faking the program will eventually get you back to square one. Their method of teaching has a lot to offer and you will learn a lot about YOU. They will test every fiber you can think of; and it is only for your benefit when you get back into the real world. It is hard to see the big picture, when you’re in the program. When you graduate, it will all fall into place. It is no skate in the park. It takes hard work on your behalf. Habilitat is the best program throughout the islands. They have a great reputation in the legal system as well. They got me out of my legal jams. As a repeat offender, you have to serve a mandatory jail sentence but because I completed Habilitat, I did no jail time. In order to grow, you must take risks. I am very happy and very productive today. Thanks to Habilitat, I do my best to apply the 9 basic concepts that they have taught me. I use some of their methods when teaching my children and it really works!!! I have an excellent relationship with my children and my family. It is a damn good feeling. The golden rule is, “NEVER FORGET WHERE YOU CAME FROM, OR YOU WILL BE DESTINED TO RETURN”………
If not for Habilitat I’m positive I would not be alive today. I was definitely on a massive path of self destruction. I had a choice of either 1 year in jail or 6 months of Rehabilitation. I chose Rehabilitation. Vinnie Marino spoke at the County Jail in California, which is how I found out about Habilitat. I actually had to go through Boot Camp to be considered for a “free scholarship” to Habilitat. I went with the intention of doing 6 months & leaving. Within that 6 month period at Habilitat something inside of me changed. I actually wanted to do something better with my life…so I decided to stick it out. I went through the Treatment Phase – Re-Entry Phase- then on to AVT. Finally I became a Staff Trainee. I worked in the Clinical Department, which I loved. I still ( 14 years later), speak to quite a few of the girls & guys I went through the program with. Habilitat is not an easy way out , but the best thing anyone can do for themselves if they were on the same path I was. I was so lucky to have worked closely with Vinnie & Vicky Marino, and I still practice their teachings on a daily basis in my life today. The Clinical Staff when I was there was “the best”…. I think of you guys often. My life is wonderful today & I owe it all to Habilitat & the long term friendships I developed while I was in the program.
As a professor in higher education and counselor and friend of Habilitat in a number of ways, the program has been extremely beneficial to me. It helps me better illustrate to my students and consumers that effective treatment truly attends to multiple needs of the individual, which I refer to as a holistic approach. The program implemented at Habilitat helps me reinforce with those in my many circles the importance of the reality that consequences are related to the choices people make. In short, Habilitat has helped me become a better teacher, counselor of people, and change agent in the world around me.
– Dr. Gary
I had turned 16 the month before I arrived at the doors of Habilitat’s Induction Center in Waikiki in April of 1976. At that point in my life, I was desperate to either die or get out of the rat hole called, “My Life”. By that time I had used so many different drugs, overdosed numerous times, landed in the hospital, and even in the hands of complete strangers due to my lack of concern for myself and others around me. My drug abuse started when I was 10 years old so you can imagine my arrested development. I had been addicted to drugs, but my biggest problem was that I did not see value or meaning for my life. I had no direction and felt no connection to anyone. It did not matter that I had a mother, father, step-mother and six siblings that tried to show they loved me, I didn’t have what it took to accept their love.
The Habilitat family changed all that. I gained a sense of value for myself and those around me through working, learning, and playing hard with my Habilitat sisters and brothers. The first thing I learned was that I was not alone. Though I didn’t wish for others to feel the desperation that I felt when I arrived, it was helpful to learn that others had worked through some of the loneliness and pain – it gave me hope that I, too, could feel worthy of happiness some day. There’s no two ways about it, Habilitat was and is a tough program. The hard work that it takes to get through gave me the experience I needed to get through many more, and even tougher times after graduation.
My goal after graduation was to go to college, find a way to support myself, and do something positive in the world. I had to utilize the Habilitat concept of “Act as if and you shall become” many times. You see, I had never been a good student, but I learned how to act as if I was a good student until I finally became a good student! Now my children think I was a nerd when I was young! I graduated with a B.S. degree in biology from the University of California, Irvine and my teaching credential and an M.S. from California State University, Fullerton. I am a high school biology and chemistry teacher now and I feel that I have found my place in life. I have learned to make the world a better place for me and those around me through my work as a teacher, my friendships, and, most importantly, as a mother.
If I could give something to new Habilitat residents or those considering entering Habilitat, I would give you a day to care just enough about yourself or someone you love to stay on the positive path for another day.
In my view, what it takes to make a life for yourself is to acknowledge your shortcomings and forgive yourself for them, but never let them be an excuse for not moving forward. -Kimberly
Habilitat is more than a treatment program, it is a life changing experience. The staff teaches a life style that is beneficial to anyone who chooses to bite and follow it. After completing the program my life has been more balanced, fulfilling and purposeful. I was able to leave my past behind and create brand new memories. I am proud to be a part of the Habilitat Family. – Chris M.
Alex They helped me up when I fell down… they fed me when I was hungry…cared for me when I was sick…clothed me when I was cold…loved me when I was cold…and said come follow us, we’ll show you a whole new world of gratitude & happiness. Alex…… “I WILL ALWAYS OWE!”
Five years ago, I thought that Habilitat was just another drug rehab program, and i wasn’t sure if it was really going to help my mom. During the four years that she was in there i was already a teenager, and i went through struggles, hardships, and pain. I moved from house to house because my family couldn’t handle me. I felt lost, and all i wanted was my mom. I needed the love and support that she always gave to me. It hurt to know that she couldn’t be there, but now that i look back at it, i’m glad that she wasn’t. In a way i’m glad that i went through all of those things because it made me the strong person that i am today. If my mom was there for me through those times, I’m not sure if neither of us would have learned to be strong on our own. Now i’m in the U.S. Air force, serving my country, while my mom has come out a sober, stronger and wiser person, who gives me the love and support that i need.Today, i look at Habilitat as an amazing program because it helped my mom, and it also helped me. Thank you Habilitat for helping my mom and I, along with the many other habilitat members and their families.
Scott & Debby, Michigan
A parent of an addict dreads the ringing of the telephone in fear of the news the caller may bring. A ringing phone today is answered with anticipation that the caller is our son sounding strong, confident and talking positively about his future. We know he would not be where he is today without the Habilitat Family.