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I Never Thought I'd be a Drug Addict


Hi. I’m Walter. Growing up, I wanted to be a boxer or a Navy Seal. I never thought I would be a drug addict instead.

My childhood wasn’t the greatest. My father was a violent alcoholic who concentrated his anger on me. To feel better about myself, I found football and boxing. I was on my own at 14 after my father told me to leave home and school kicked me out for a bad attitude. I worked for a roofing company for awhile and found my place in the gym. Throughout my 20s I boxed six days a week and considered turning pro, but boxing heavyweight was pretty challenging.

In my 30s I was a bouncer and ran a liquor store. Those were rougher crowds. I picked up drinking on the weekends, then a few drugs here and there, until I started sniffing heroin. Something inside me got bothered—in part because of the crowd I hung with. It was killing my spirit, and I drank and used drugs to mask the feelings.

By the time I reached my 40s, the situation was much worse. I was shooting heroin, and it was really difficult to stay clean. I tried a few recovery programs--one was like a horror show, the other like a jail. Staff treated me like crap, and it didn’t seem like anyone was responsible. That’s not the kind of environment I want for recovery!

Here at the Mission, the staff treat us like human beings. Outside, I’m all tense, but here it’s much better—I feel safe. I’m able to communicate with people, get rid of bad behaviors, and hold my head up higher. When somebody’s down, I can give them a hand and pick them up. As long as I can stay focused, and always remember where I was before here, my future looks good. I’m interested in the substance abuse program at UMass, and would like to be helpful here as long as I can.

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