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Alex wants stability, and a future with his daughters
Alex was exposed to drugs as a child, smoking marijuana when he was just 8 and starting to experiment with other drugs by the time he was 11. “It was whatever I could get my hands on,” he said.
At 13, he started selling. “I was a full-on drug dealer, picking up pounds (of drugs). In the beginning of my sophomore year I ended up in juvenile hall.”
Alex was expelled from high school, where he has fond memories of competing on the wrestling team. “That was the beginning of the downward spiral.” He was on probation for five years, but spent nearly half of that time locked up. Most of his probation violations were for failed drug tests, but he also has weapons charges against him.
“It comes hand in hand with selling drugs,” he said. “Being that young and selling, you don’t want anyone to take advantage of you, or think that you aren’t getting their money. It shows you mean business.”
Alex got off probation when he turned 18. “It didn’t take much longer before I got in trouble and was in jail,” he said. “I was in and out until 2016. I stayed out then. I was doing good working and trying to bring some stability to my life. I was a functioning addict, but I was getting a real paycheck, something I could actually show on my taxes.”
Even with a regular paycheck, Alex said it wasn’t easy staying afloat. “My living situation wasn’t stable. I was staying at friends’ houses or Airbnbs,” he said. “I was struggling as much as I’d like to say I wasn’t. I barely had enough to get food in my stomach, get a roof over my head, and support my drug habit of course. I had barely enough to get by, even selling drugs on the side. It was tiring.”
For more than four years, Alex stayed out of jail. “Nothing changed really, I was just being smarter. I wasn’t getting caught.”
But then his luck changed. After some drug-related and robbery charges, Alex was facing two years in prison. “I ended up going for four months and then coming here,” he said. “If I stayed in prison, I wouldn’t have that strike on my record. But I took the strike and came here because I don’t see myself getting in trouble anymore. I’m too old to be locked up anymore.
“I could see myself never getting anywhere. I wanted change.”
A major part of that had to do with Alex’s two young daughters, 3 and 1. “I spent her (one of his daughter’s) birthday in jail,” he said. “That was hard. My daughters are getting older, and I don’t want them to not have both parents in their lives. I want what’s best for them. I want to be clear minded. They are my motivation to stay on track and not live that very selfish life anymore. I was just destroying myself. I wasn’t living life.”
Alex, now 34, got to the Mission in May. “I’m sober for the first time that I can remember, even from cigarettes,” he said. “I smoked for 20 years. I’m in a different chapter in my life now. I’m seeing clearly. I know what I want to do and this program is definitely helping me. It’s getting me better so I can be successful, get stability and a foundation. I can just imagine if I was out there by myself trying to do this, trying to get myself together. It helps so much, having a team around you who wants to see you do good.”
The daily devotion and spending time with the other men at the Mission has helped Alex. “The whole brotherhood here, everyone has a lot of the same issues. They aren’t trying to go back to the life they were living or back to the streets. As much as we glamorize it, it’s not great—we just lived it for so long. It’s all I knew. I don’t even like to think about that time anymore. I’m trying to take steps forward, not back.
“The staff—it took me a bit to warm up to them—but all these people, these guys, they are becoming like family to me. It makes me not want to leave. No one wants to leave their family.”
When things get tough, Alex thinks about his daughters. “Every day is a battle—my mind is trained to do what I want,” he said. “I know it’s going to benefit me. I plan on using this program for all it has to offer. I need all that and then some. “If I were to die tomorrow, I don’t want my daughters to hear about their dad being a deadbeat, not having anything, being a nobody. I want to go back to school. I want something stable for work, something with a retirement plan where I can move up. I want to own a house.”