An incident in Robert’s youth led to years of addiction. But walking through the doors of GCBHS set him on a new course.
A misstep can change your life. Robert found that out at 27, when he fell 20 stories on the job and broke his back.
That was his introduction to Percocet. And addiction.
Addiction would eventually fracture every relationship he had. It would land him in jail. It would plunge him into depression. It would waste him away physically. It would suck out every molecule of hope that dared to form.
For years, the pain pills gave Robert a shadowy, dulled existence. But his problems deepened when his marriage began to fall apart. It threw him into a dark and desperate place. Suddenly, the pills weren’t enough. That’s when he turned to heroin. The first time he got caught with heroin, he was arrested, but received probation instead of jail time. It was his first offense, after all.
And then he failed seven probation drug tests.
Each time he failed and went back to heroin, it cost him another relationship with one of his six children. “I kept thinking that my kids meant the world to me and I wasn’t seeing them,” Robert says. He was sinking more into depression each week, often unable to leave his mother’s basement. Still, he needed his fix. “The last night I got locked up, I thought, this is just going to keep going on and on, and eventually, I’m going to get put in here and I’m not going to get out.”
Death or incarceration—those seemed to be his only options.
“The main thing I would want someone like me to know about GCBHS is that you can get clean, too.”
There was another option, though. His Aetna health insurance care manager suggested Robert come to GCBHS. Here, he connected with a care manager, who helped him enroll in an intensive outpatient group for substance abuse. The eight-week program met three times a week for three hours each, and Robert was there each time. He wasn’t messing around—he couldn’t afford to. In fact, he was one of the few group members who was there of his own accord (versus being court-mandated). “If I didn’t get connected at GCBHS, I would be in jail or in the ground,” he says.
Not only did Robert get off the heroin for good, he slowly weaned himself off the Percocet, too. He started eating again. He got a good job in construction (he builds houses) and got an apartment with his 21-year-old son, who he calls his best friend. He reached out to his other children, and started the process of repairing his relationships with each of them.
After a year without heroin, Robert looked around and felt hopeful. Life had turned again, re-oriented him in a new direction—not wiping away his past, but setting him free from it. “I’ve never enjoyed life as much as I do now,” he says.
Robert is proud of his accomplishments, but he believes that getting clean is something anyone can do—if they want it badly enough. “The main thing I would want someone like me to know about GCBHS is that you can get clean too. I never thought I could at first, but that group saved my life,” he says. “You have to want it, but you can do it. If I did it, you can too.”