By Antonio R., Outpatient Peer Support Specialist/Registered Alcohol Drug Technician

Editor’s Note: In an interview with Antonio R, who went to through AADAP’s treatment twice, he shared his journey to sobriety and how he took command of his addiction and future. Antonio chose to pave a new path with AADAP staff, his family and new circle of support. This is his success story. 

Q: How did you come to know about AADAP? 

A: “I struggled with addiction and alcohol over 37 years. My uncle, Oliver Taylor, used to work for AADAP saw me over the years my highs and lows. He would ask me, “When will you change your life?” Uncle lived close to AADAP Therapeutic Community (TC). Once he retired from AADAP, and became a minister, he urged me to go to TC, given that I was serious, and talk to TC Director, James Stinson. In 2019, Mr. Stinson gave me a chance, but I did not want to participate in my treatment and be honest. I managed to stay connected with AADAP for 2 ½ years by the time COVID-19 hit. I had an attitude and did not tap into the tools they provided for coping skills. Shortly after, I left TC, and really struggled. Uncle Oliver constantly reminded me that Mr. Stinson was giving me tough love.”

Q: Share more about your challenges and commitment to sobriety. 

A: “I finally chose to get off the streets again and return to TC. Mr. Stinson was furious when I returned because I disrupted the household. I was told to turn around and leave. I was on the street for a year and half. Though jobs came easy for me, the drugs drove me up the wall. I lived in my car and was self-medicating. The holidays were painful, and I wasn’t allowed to return home.  At the time, I was a supervisor for USC, but soon, was fired. My mom gave me the final straw and said to make a choice. I will never forget my mom said, “You are the only one that fix what you did.” I placed myself on the mercy of AADAP to take me back. Mr. Stinson asked if was serious, to return with a negative COVID-19 test and sober. My mom drove me to TC, and we did the intake. Starting over was my only choice. I committed to my treatment, and within one month, I was voted to House Coordinator. It was like winning the lottery. I learned the values that others taught me. I looked to helping others, and had to be emphatic, not be judgmental. I had to meet them where they were. The more I helped them, I helped myself.”

After months of treatment, Antonio enrolled in Work Source and with the support from Damond Alford, Therapeutic Community, and Thurman Jackson, Outpatient, he received job training and leadership skills. His reality took a serious turn, and he became a Counselor at OP. He would take the bus from his mom’s to Woodland Hills to attend classes at Pierce College. He was also offered an internship with LA Housing Authority. Antonio shared, “I worked to build a great support team of long-term recovery. Cory Shiozaki became my sponsor. He helped me to change my attitude even more.” 

Q: How would you describe your life now? What can you share with others interested in a similar path of sobriety? 

A: “I would not change anything because what I have gone through brought me to where I am. Today, I love what I do. Presently, I am an OP RADT/Peer Support Specialist. I did a TC seminar for the house on gratitude. Thank you to my mom; Uncle Oliver; Dean Nakanishi; James Stinson; Patty Abrantes; Lauren Lee; Nancy Shiozaki; Kenneth Judson; Semaje Stinson; Kevin Shibayama; Ana Ramos; Thurman Jackson and Thi Mach. They all taught me the value to do things for people and for myself. They brought the golden out of me. I continue to go to meeting seven days a week and am a full-time student at Questa College in San Luis Obispo for CCAPP accreditation. I make sure to not be too hard on myself and deal with what I can. 

This is my life test.  I passed the first round, am ready for more! I am doing it and you can do it, too! I had to change my mindset and see that is valuable. Give thanks to the good people who surrounded me, my great supportive team at home and at AADAP!”