2015 October Newsletter – Full Circle: Alex’s Story
Alex’s addiction to painkillers was so bad that he crossed a line he never imagined crossing.
While staying with his sister after losing hisapartment, he pilfered money from her purse to buy pills on the street. Even worse, desperate for drugs, he stole some of the pain medicine his mother took for multiple sclerosis.
“Stealing from your own family is just about as low as you can get,” Alex recalls, lowering his head with shame. “But whenyou’re addicted, it doesn’t matter. My mind wasn’t right.”
Alex started suffering from rheumatoid arthritis when he was in high school. The condition ended his dream of playing professional baseball so he entered the restaurant business, graduating from Le
Cordon Bleu Culinary School and working his way up to general manager of a restaurant.
“Everything was excellent until the job became more physically demanding. My arthritis flared up so I went to the doctor and got a prescription for pain medicine. Before I knew it I was hooked.”
Alex’s descent was swift and steep. When his prescription ran out, he started buying pills on the street. He started pawning his possessions and stopped making his car and rent payments.
By the time he was thrown out of his sister’s house for stealing, the 6-foot-tall former athlete was down to a sickly 158 pounds and having seizures.
“It was eating me alive. I was a mess, physically and emotionally. I didn’t know where to turn.”
Four times he entered rehab, and each time he came out just as hooked as when he went in.
“I did inpatient and outpatient programs. I talked to medical doctors and psychologists. I tried everything and nothing worked. It got to the point where I was having suicidal thoughts.”
That’s when a friend asked, “Have you given God a try?” and brought him to the Mission’s Men’s Center.
It was here that Alex finally found refuge from the demons that had all but destroyed his life.
“I wasn’t too sure at first. There weren’t any doctors, but then again doctors never helped me before. But as I started going to chapel every day. I started feeling the Holy Spirit in me. God was able to do something for me that nobody else could do.”
Alex has been clean and sober since March. “The only way I can say it is that god took this terrible burden off me. i haven’t had a desire for painkillers. This place is a blessing.”
Alex has been a blessing for the Mission, too, as he’s brought his culinary experience to the kitchen at O.U.R. Mission Home., where he helps prepare and serve nearly 900 meals a day for men, women and children who’ve also had struggles.
It’s a full-circle journey for someone who went from serving meals in a restaurant to seeking meals on the street and back to serving – this with a sense of humility and gratitude.
“I never know anything about homelessness but now that I’ve tasted it for myself, I see things in a whole different way. The work is hard and I get tired, but when I put food on a plate and give it to a person, it’s the greatest feeling. I know how God has changed my life and I want to be a small part of that happening for others.”