For those of you that don’t know, I spent over 3 years of my life under treatment of Pathway Drug Abuse Program In both Tucson and Phoenix. I slipped through the cracks and wound up in the program without first going into outpatient. My brother was arrested about 8 weeks before this happened with a sheet of acid and got off with diversion because he was drug, tooth and nail, into outpatient in Pathway shortly after and showed many signs of improvement. After my brother was 6 weeks into the program he invited the whole group (about 90 teenagers) over to our house at the time for a pool party. I had so much fun that night I instantly became attracted to the group of kids and wanted to spend more time with them. So when I heard my brother was going out to party with the group I wanted to come along.
I smoked weed for about 6 months in my high school career, in between I had quit the drug for about my entire sophomore year, picked it up again, and shortly put it down again, because I don’t like feeling out of control of my life. 9 months later I am partying with pathway kids because two friends that didn’t do drugs weren’t enough. I based my sobriety date on my first pathway meeting (7.11.99) loosely based on a beer I had at some chicks birthday party. To this day I have never been drunk in my life and I haven’t gotten high since that 9 month period before Pathway.
Don’t get me wrong, partying with the kids in the program was some of the best times in my life, but things started to happen. I was instantly accepted into the group, I was really cool just based on the fact I had long hair. They dubbed me “Chong” because ironically, I was “the biggest pothead” they had ever seen. Shortly after I started partying with them I dropped my satanic beliefs and started worshipping the group rather than myself. And with that, many of their beliefs and principles became my own. I started to believe that If I was to leave the group I would start shooting up or smoking crack and die. I had no reason to do that so I stuck around and had some fun with the kids. 2 years later I am told I will be released into the world and I naturally got fearful. I had an appointment with some of the counselors about graduation and told them I was still struggling with the idea that “I have a problem with drugs”. They told me “only dope fiends question if they are a dope fiend or not” and sent me to Phoenix to attend an outpatient program.
Outpatient was a whole lot of drama and about the only think I gained from it was more fear of dope, computers, sex, and the like. I became afraid that if I did anything besides party with the people in the group I would take it to such an extreme I would smoke crack and die, even use a computer. So I was completely isolated form the world at this point except for my family, god, love and “spiritual” recovery that was the group of Pathway. Then somewhere along the way my brother, who was still in the program, got laid. He went through hell for so called “sport fucking” and endured all kinds of emotional turmoil, and then left… to do some more drugs, it was the only thing he could think of and I don’t blame him, what happened to him was fucked up. But then I called him once when he was drunk when I was still in phoenix and my heart broke, not because of the treatment he received for “sport fucking”, but because he was drunk. After a few talks with counselors and clients of the group I was ready to disown him and cut off all ties to my brother. My brother and I have been best friends our entire lives.
Shortly after I was excommunicated to an extent and viewed as “sick” by the same 90 people who were my “friends” because I was living with a guy who wasn’t in the program. Even though I was the same Ray I always was, they somehow weren’t my friends any more. Then;I drove down to Tucson to visit my family on Thanksgiving and my car broke down, I was stuck in Tucson again and the people in Pathway down here didn’t seem to acknowledge me either to the most part. I was still good friends with Connaway, however, who were graduating the program at the time; and my brother, who started doing well out of Pathway. Somewhere I realized that if I had left the program I might not be likely to shoot-up-smoke-crack-and-die so I opted to graduate into the rooms of A.A. During this period I met many great people (you know who you are) that taught me that not all people outside pathway are going to feed me a crack pipe. In fact, there are many great spiritual principles, and fellowships in A.A. that helped me to realize that there is no reason to fear drugs or people who do them for that matter.
Upon loosing my fear for drugs and alcohol I discovered I didn’t fear them until I was in pathway. Prior to Pathway, I experimented a little with drugs and discovered I didn’t like doing them, and that was that. I have celebrated each year of my “sobriety” since I started pathway, and when year six comes around, I will not celebrate. I have realized that there was never a struggle for me to not pick up a drink or not take a bong hit. Simply saying to people that I choose to not drink or get high is not much an accomplishment for me now, there is no stigma for me. I do still congratulate those who celebrate sobriety anniversaries because I have seen how difficult It is for Alcoholics or Addicts to put the chemicals down, It is a great achievement to get any time for them and I have nothing but respect for that. Unfortunately there is still those people who have to ask If I have drank yet, I think I will Just tell them that my life now is not “sobriety”, “dryness”, or “normal”, I just live it, and I love my life.
Although coming out of Pathway was one of the hardest things in my life, I have a lot to thank from it and a lot I would like to just leave there, behind me. I do feel ashamed of many of my actions and beliefs that I had when I was there. And for also saying gay as a derogatory term while hearing clients share in meetings: “I used to be gay but then I realized that was only my disease wanting me to pity myself”. Yes there is shame for many of the things in the past, but I have learned from it and become a better person now. I found the true meaning of happiness for me, and that comes not from acceptance or having great relationships, but from my heart. As long as my heart keeps beating I can be happy and be myself, with that comes many rewards. I have an outlook now of loving everybody no matter who they are, because they too have a heart, or even a heart waiting to come out.