I grew up in a wealthy family in Saratoga Springs, New York. I went to Catholic school and a Christian military school and started using when I was ten years old. By the time I was sixteen, I dropped out of high school and moved into my own apartment. Even though I had some challenges with my family, they sent me to the Culinary Institute of America and I became a chef at a young age. I stopped using for a while, and then got married, moved to New Jersey, and became an Executive Chef.
I started drinking on Fridays and then on weekends. I began using drugs again—first, a couple of times a week, and then all the time when I was not at work. And as it often happens with active drug use, I got caught on a felony gun charge and served two years on probation. By this time, my wife and I had two children, both boys. We moved back to Saratoga Springs, New York, where I worked as an Executive Chef.
The cycle of drinking and using started all over again. I went to my first rehab at the age of twenty-four, and I have been in ten outpatient programs and ten inpatient programs. My wife eventually left me and took the children. I had reached the point in my life where I lost everything, including hope. I lived on the streets of Las Vegas for two-and-a-half years from 2005 to 2008, and found myself in several situations where I was almost killed. I became a panhandler to support my drug habit. I was down to 140 pounds and had long dirty knotted hair, a long knotted beard, and filthy hands and face. On top of that, I stunk because I didn't bathe or change my cloths.
I didn't think I would last much longer on the streets, so I went to the Las Vegas Recovery Center (LVRC) for their three-month program. My counselor was Craig Larson, who was straightforward with me. I went back to Saratoga Springs and moved in with my wife. I stayed abstinent for seven months, until my wife left with the children again. So I went back to the Las Vegas Recovery Center and Craig was my counselor.
At LVRC, I learned that addiction is a family disease and I was able to see how my family enabled my drug use. My father and I agreed that I wouldn't accept any more financial help from him. We agreed that if I relapsed, then I would go to a program that did not cost any money. I wish I could tell you that I stayed in recovery this time around, but I didn't. Instead, I became a regular at the Clark County Detention Center (CCDC).
On November 14, 2009, I laid on a manhole near the Treasure Island Casino and thought of all the people I had let down and how I had thrown my life away. I cried and cried and then I said, “God, please help me.” This was the first time ever in my life that I said this and I felt it in my heart. I sat up and said it again. All of a sudden I stood up and started walking north on Las Vegas Boulevard. I didn't know where I was going, but I remembered what I learned at LVRC and the agreement between my father and me.
So I went to Valley Hospital and from there got into Westcare. Westcare suggested that I go to a halfway house and they got me in the Las Vegas Rescue Mission. The staff at the Mission found out about my chef experience and moved me to work in the kitchen. I was responsible for coordinating and cooking 1000 meals a day. Somewhere along the way the Kitchen Manager was let go and the Kitchen Administrator had left, and I soon found myself in the position of temporary Kitchen Manager with a promise to be hired in three months. I completed the program in January 2010.
I am now the Kitchen Manager at the Las Vegas Rescue Mission and have been in recovery for two years and one-and-a-half months. I am self-supporting and have remarried. I have my own car and live in a beautiful apartment. Thanks to recovery, the tools Las Vegas Recovery Center gave me, and the help of my Higher Power, I once again have a life.