End Stigma | The Real Voices of Recovery

Abraham is dedicated to his new way of life that started on October 6, 2017. Read his story in his own words.
My name is Abraham Sanchez, I was born here in Tucson, AZ on the Southside to be more specific. I mention the southside because it was a huge part of my life, culture, environment, drugs and gangs, poverty, etc. The saying ” I’m a product of my environment” was deeply rooted in my head. I grew up in an unstable environment, my father was an alcoholic, who regular physically assaulted my mom when he was intoxicated. He would also verbally and sometimes physically abuse me; he became what they call in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous ” Dr. Jekal and Mr. Hide”. Meaning he was his true authentic self (caring, honest, loving), but once he got drunk, which was almost daily he became a MONSTER (angry, loud, cold). Finally my mother divorced him after twenty years of dealing with his abuse, I was 11yrs old at the time of the separation.
Once my father was out the picture, my mother would have to work 2 jobs just to keep food on the table, my father’s income was no longer available and wasn’t for many years to come, he never paid his child support so my mother had to work twice as hard. This is when life became very difficult for me and my brothers, I became really close to my uncle, I was looking for someone to fill that void, unfortunately he was also an alcoholic. I was in 6th grade walking home when I discovered that my uncle was dead in the alley behind the liquor store. My other uncle was there waiting for the police to arrive, he told me to get home asap and stay there. I was heartbroken and confused, I was just beginning to open up and accept him as a father.

This was the first of many tragic events that affected my mental, spiritual and emotional well-being. That summer I began smoking cigarettes, marijuana, and started hoofing paint, white-out, rubber cement. I found friends who were similar to my lifestyle, broken and disconnected from the regular world. Most were older than me and also from a broken or dysfunctional family. They became my remodels, eventually selling drugs and getting high everyday was my number one priority at the age of 14, I got involved in my first relationship at 14 years old and got my girlfriend pregnant, she just turned 14 and was also involved in her neighborhood gang and came from an abusive family. Afraid of telling my mom about this we kept it a secret for a little while, without me knowing my girlfriend had an abortion and the 10th avenue projects in the bathtub, she later told me she had to be rushed to the hospital and almost lost her life. I was devasted because I finally got the guts to tell my mom and we were going to raise the baby and give it the best life possible. Losing that child, even at that young age it had a profound effect on my life. She also was affected and ended up killing another young female over gang affiliation and ended up doing 25 yrs. in prison. She was the youngest in AZ history to be tried as an adult, she is out if prison and now helping others with re-entry back into society.

I’m going to move forward with this timeline, some key events during my teens, my other uncle died from cirrhosis, my cousin also died from an overdose and my friend was murdered for 2 pills, I also became a father at the age of 18, this is when things started to turn towards a more positive path for me. I became a dedicated father; my two daughters were my priority and everything was left behind. Unfortunately, my disease of addiction was still inside waiting for it to be awoken again and it did once my relationship fell apart and me and my daughter’s mother separated. I went into a deep depression and so many unhealed parts of me came rushing up, I became angry, bitter and suicidal, the drugs and alcohol were my medication for everything I didn’t want to feel. I was 22 years old at the time, I became 37 yrs. old overnight or it felt like it. In all those years I was using and drinking every day, jail visits were a common thing, rehabs and institutions were almost a monthly getaway.

My mother was there every step I took to get my life together, she was the only one who supported me without judgement, unconditional love and lots of prayers and patience. She passed on August 21, 2017 from cirrhosis due to HEP C, she wasn’t an alcoholic but she died an alcoholics death. I was her caregiver for the last 6 months of her life, I witness my mother take her last breath of life before she crossed to the spirit world. A month after the shock wore off and the realization that she’s never coming home again threw me into an even darker place, suicide was my only option to relieve the pain I was going thru, the drugs and alcohol were no longer numbing the pain. By the grace of GOD/CREATOR my counselor called 911 for a welfare check on me because I completely stopped my groups, therapy sessions for grief and loss. Two police officers knocked on my room door, as I was about to take over 100 pills, they quickly pushed the door open and took the pills from my hand, these two officers were very polite and caring, so I became willing to seek some help. A few days in the CRC to gather my thoughts and set up appointments to get back on track with my counselor, therapist, groups.

October 6, 2017 is the day of my new way of life, I’ve been completely abstinence from all drugs and alcohol, but not just abstinence, I AM RECOVERING AND DISCOVERING, myself for the first time as an adult. My dedication and my willingness to open up and do the uncomfortable things to get myself healthy in all areas of my life, mentally, physical and spiritually. The uncomfortable things are now comfortable, like speaking to groups, sharing my experience with others, helping others and most of all listening. I chaired a Narcotics Anonymous meeting for almost 5 years on the south side of all places, went to training for my RSS and taking courses in college for Behavioral Health Science and one day will receive my LISIAC. I also have QPR training for suicide prevention and a certified Gatekeeper, I am also a certified facilitator for White Bison Wellbriety and have now just opened a group on the southside for Native Americans. As my job career I work for Community Medical Services to provide peer support for those who are in the justice system or just released from incarceration, and I work for Impact Medical – Spirit Healing house which is a residential facility for Native American men as a BHT.

There are so many things that have brought life back into my heart and meaning, finding my purpose in life is now a living amends to all those who I hurt during my active addiction. I would like to let those who still suffer from this disease know that, you are important and loved, you have a purpose and right now you are in the process of it, even in the midst of this darkness, light will come to you and you will become your true authentic self. Be patience and kind to yourself, because this world isn’t very kind but your perceptions of your world will change once you love yourself and become willing to open your heart to release your pain and heartaches. Find your support group, not just a support group but YOUR support group where you feel comfortable and loved. Always be open-minded to new ideas or suggestions, become willing to be uncomfortable and always stay connected to your higher power of your understanding. And always remember we are no longer victims of life, we are students of life, knowledge and wisdom comes from our experience in life, use that knowledge and wisdom to be powerful not to be superior to your brothers and sisters but to fight your greatest enemy YOURSELF.