Anthony’s Recovery Story
“There were times that I didn’t know that I was struggling because it was the norm of my environment. So I can say I realized I was struggling with the addiction about a year or two before I got married to my wife, so about seven years ago.”
Anthony’s first taste of alcohol came before he could count. Raised by his grandparents who were busy working to provide for the family, he was often left in the care of his aunts and uncle. Young and not fully comprehending the damage they were causing, they often filled his bottles with beer or exposed him to marijuana. His childhood memories are filled with early signs of addiction, though he didn’t realize it at the time.
“I can remember all the way back to elementary school. We had a full bar in my house and after school I’d get off the school bus and go in the house and drink. In elementary school. I never got in trouble for throwing up on the living room couch or passing out drunk. It used to be funny to my aunts and uncle. I don’t want to speak bad about them because they were children themselves, they didn’t know what they were doing. They loved me, I know that, but they didn’t even know that they were doing anything wrong to me.”
This early exposure to substance abuse and its normalization quickly consumed him.
“I can remember getting on my bike and riding over to my mother’s house. When she was in the bathroom or something, I would go through her drawers or kitchen cabinets and steal bags of weed. I would be at the school bus stop smoking joints. I can remember in elementary school going into the neighborhood convenience store and stealing bottles of beer, putting them in my bookbag and drinking them on the bus. Getting out of school and I couldn’t wait to get home and get drunk, drink liquor and smoke marijuana.”
Life continued that way for many years, the days and nights melding together in a blur of high and/or drunkenness. Mimicking the behaviors of the people in his immediate vicinity, Anthony never realized his early life was anything but normal.
“I really didn’t think of it as a problem until I met my first wife. When I met her I tried to hide it, but at the same time I didn’t know why I was hiding because it was ‘normal.’ But she wasn’t doing the things that I was doing. I would drink in front of her, but I wouldn’t do the other things in front of her. Eventually it did graduate from marijuana to powder cocaine.”
Though Anthony and first wife would welcome children together, their relationship dissolved, in part due to his substance abuse. While he never wanted his children to witness his habits, the ensuing divorce devastated him. Struggling to make child support payments and unable to see his children because of his drinking and drug use, Anthony eventually lost his job to his addiction. He spent his days getting drunk or high to dull the pain until one day he was invited to lunch at Applebee’s by a friend.
He admits to spending most of that lunch drinking at the bar rather than enjoying a meal, but it is a day he will never forget. While having a conversation with said friend, a woman approached him and told him she was led to him by her faith. His current wife, Tamecsha, had also just left a difficult relationship and says she prayed for a good man to enter her life. When she saw Anthony sitting there she was immediately drawn in.
“I was immediately interested. Because I saw a good hearted man and I wanted to know more. So I took a chance and I took a risk. Obviously there are some things on the surface that I don’t agree with or think would be good for me, but I decided to lock in and see where the ride would take me.”
Anthony and Tamecsha were inseparable almost immediately. Though she recognized he was down on his luck and needed help, she didn’t know the extent of his troubles until later. She was first told about his drug use and heavy drinking when she was introduced to his family for the first time. Evenso, Anthony continued to try to hide his habits, leading to conflict between the two.
“His thought was if I didn’t see him do it, he didn’t have to admit to it. It caused a lot of arguments and fights, but this last fight that we had was the worst. He left and stayed gone forever.”
Anthony recalls the fight that pushed the two apart and his spiral into drug trafficking thereafter.
“I was really believing my lies, like, ‘hey, I don’t have a problem. I don’t have a problem.’ After that last incident I put all of my clothes in the car and I left, changed my phone number, and didn’t answer emails. It took me to a point where I ended up becoming a drug dealer. I wasn’t working anymore. The only thing I was doing was selling drugs, getting high, and drinking. I was riding around in my car at four or five o’clock in the morning with drugs and alcohol in my car, running from here to there.”
This continued for a few months until he was unexpectedly struck by an epiphany.
“I’d been getting high every day for a month or two straight– not eating, losing weight. I got stuck in traffic one day. I hadn’t talked to my wife for two months, and on that day something came over me and I looked around. I see a bottle of liquor sitting in my passenger seat, a 12 pack of Heineken on the floor, a dollar bill filled with cocaine in my lap. I just went crazy in the car. People in the cars around me were looking at me like ‘what’s going on’ and I was punching the windshield and trying to snatch the steering wheel off. I picked up my phone and called her.”
Even after months of not hearing from her husband and being unable to contact him, Tamecsha’s love and acceptance of Anthony was a major factor in his decision to seek help. During that phone call he admitted he had a problem and recognized the need to get out of his area for treatment. Tamecsha made a few phone calls and within a few hours, Anthony was contacted by Harbor Village and on a flight to Florida the very next day. Determined to turn his life around, Anthony accepted.
“Deciding to do this was the best investment that my wife and I ever made.”
While he didn’t know what lay ahead, Anthony knew he no longer wanted to live as he had been for 47 years. Expecting something akin to the movies with padded cells and strict, harsh treatment, what he found instead was a welcoming home filled with compassionate people who finally understood.
“I didn’t hide anything. I put everything on the line because I was really done with it. I wanted to be a great father, I wanted to be an excellent husband, and I got everything I needed from the people here.”
Now nearing two years of sobriety, Anthony says the most impactful part of treatment at Harbor Village was getting to hear other people’s success stories.
“The one thing that helped me the most was having people in recovery come in to speak. They give it to you real: you’re going to always be in recovery for the rest of your life. That’s what really helped me. Seeing the people who went through the same things I went through and they were succeeding. That’s what really helped me know that I could do it. And I have to do it.”
Now with one of his own, Anthony shares his testimony in hopes of helping others in the same way.
“This experience with Harbor Village gave me the courage to no longer be ashamed of what I’d been through. I tell anybody what I’ve been through and I let them know we don’t have to always be like this.”
For her part, Tamecsha is proud of her husband for not only finding sobriety, but choosing this path for himself.
“I was afraid that he was just doing it for me. Because I’d heard those stories and people saying ‘they only do it to keep you.’ So I would test him. I’d ask, ‘okay, are you ready?’ and to my surprise — and it was a good surprise– he would say ‘no baby, I’m doing this.’ That’s when I knew that he was serious. I was afraid that I was going to have to deal with this man for the rest of my life because I loved him even in his addiction. I was afraid I was going to have to accept it. Because when you love someone it’s hard to walk away. But he did it.”
Anthony’s story proves that no matter your past, recovery is possible. Take your first step today with just one phone call. 855-306-8054.
Exposed to drugs and alcohol from a young age, Anthony tried to conceal his struggles for years until finally breaking down and asking for help after a month long bender. His wife Tamecsha joins him to share her experiences with supporting him through recovery and her gratitude for Harbor Village in helping him turn his life around.read more
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