"I had claimed 17 years of sobriety back in the 80’s but it was a middle of the road type of recovery… meetings and all that. There was nothing spiritual about it. I never worked the steps. Made a few amends but mostly just to get them off my back and to let people know i was doing alright. I did pretty good for myself during those years. Got a job at Delta Airlines which i kept for a long time. Eventually though, i drank again. And shortly after that Delta laid me off. And that's when things really changed because i got introduced to methamphetamines. I remember taking some the first night and i cleaned my whole house and then called the dealer the next morning and said, 'I don't think this stuff is working.' I was looking for some type of euphoric feeling and it wasn't quite like that. I started doing that all the time though and after a while started feeling like people were watching me and following me. And i had this moment where i realized i was blowing through my severance package, retirement and savings and that i really needed to stop. And i could not stop. i knew i had crossed that line. That there was was something different about me, like the book says. And still, i stayed with it while my life continued to get turned upside down. Finally i found out i could stop the meth if i switched to crack cocaine. The very first time i did it properly, i bought 200 dollars worth, a pretty big chunk. And i remember hitting it and before i blew out the first hit i said, 'we need to get some more of this.' The guy i was with says, 'Jimmy, you got enough to last you 3 days'. But all i could think is that we were gonna need more. But man, i felt like i had found it. That stuff changed my life. It took control."
"During that time i had received an inheritance from my Aunt... over 100 thousand dollars. And i blew through that in less than a year. I moved back to El Paso and kept doing the same thing. At the end, i had 1000 dollars left, i had sold everything i owned. And my brother and a few old friends from recovery showed up. They kinda laid out for me to see just where my life was at and said they wanted to get me to treatment. I thought about it for a little bit and finally gave in. And i went to a 45 day program and then went straight to another 90 day program. And the whole time in both places i was just crawling out of my skin. I had no idea what was wrong with me. I still wanted to get high and was just so angry and terrified. Treatment was just tough on me. It challenged my belief system and ego and pride. After 3 months there, right before i was supposed to graduate, i just snapped. I was afraid to talk about what was really going on, that i still wanted to get high. That i had these 3 things from my past that were haunting me. And i couldn't talk about being scared to death that i was 40 years old and having to ask people for help to live.So i walked out of there. And in a way, that probably saved my life. Me walking out of there was the most honest thing i had done in those 5 months. And there was a great freedom in just leaving, even though i knew it wasn't a great decision."
"I made my way back to my brothers in Eastern New Mexico. He said i could stay if i wasn't using. Shortly after, i headed to Austin saying i was going to look for a job. The whole purpose of me going though was to get some crack and get high. I had that 1000 dollars my brother had been holding for me. So i get there, drive around and find a guy who scores me some rock and we headed to a hotel. I just couldn't wait to hit it. And the second i did, everything changed instantaneously. It had been 6 months since i used but the paranoia was back immediately and was even 10 times worse. And the guy, who was a homeless guy or a street type addict, looked at me like i was crazy. I started barricading the door, just like i always did. The thing is, i had always smoked alone. No one had ever seen me do this. And the guy is watching me move all the furniture in front of the door and asks me, 'What are you doing dude?' and i tell him 'I gotta do this to enjoy my crack'. He says, 'It sure doesn't look like you're enjoying it. You've taken one hit and look what you're doing'. Anyway, i sat in the bathroom just staring out the door. I always smoked in the bathroom so i could flush it all once the cops busted in. And for the first time in my life someone was finding out how i really reacted to drugs. Someone was seeing it. And he says, 'Man, what's your story? Cuz i've been smoking crack for 20 years and i've never met anybody like you. Look at you barricading the doors. You're not enjoying this. You're a prisoner of your own mind. Take a look at yourself'. It's like i got to look outside of myself and see who i really was through this guy. And for the first time in my life i flushed some dope. I said, 'I'm done'. It was the firmest thing i had ever said in my life. It just wasn't working. I was done."
"That day i drove back, my brother kicked me out and i made my way to an old friend's place in Weatherford, Texas. And that's where my recovery really began."
"Two weeks into sobriety i got hooked up with a guy in Weatherford who had rooms for rent. I called him, told him my story and he told me to come have a look at the place. Turned out to be an old horse slaughtering plant. So he rented me a room that had once been a freezer. Still had meat hooks in the ceiling, styrofoam insulated steel walls and a big drain in the middle of the floor. Cost me 100 dollars a week. So i moved in and of course started going to meetings. And i knew i needed to get honest finally about everything that was really going on with Jimmy. I got a sponsor who was all about the big Book and the 12 Steps... he was an old biker guy. We started the work and got it done. Also i started working for a newspaper driving and delivering papers for 8 dollars an hour. Did that for 5 months and then another opportunity came up that was considerably higher at 20 an hour. And i remember once i had a little more money telling my sponsor that i was ready to move out of this dump, i mean it was an old horse slaughtering plant right? He just said, 'Do you got a roof over your head? Is it dry? Is it warm in the winter and cold in the summer? You're not moving anywhere. Lets get those amends taken care of'. And so i started going back to El Paso and Lubbock and making amends and paying off my family and friends and everybody else i had ripped off or owed money to. And i made those amends and ended up living in that room for 2 years."
"And one day, someone who had seen me working with new guys and sharing at meetings asked me if i had ever thought about counseling. And so i prayed about it and decided to go back to college. I ended up finishing school, did my internship and have been counseling for a few years now. And i'm able to use that to help people now. That's when i really knew my life had drastically changed for the better... when for once Jimmy completed something. I completed college. I'm fully licensed by the State of Texas now. It's just amazing considering where i came from and what i was doing with my life."