Dallas graduates program, begins his next chapter in life

It’s been nearly a year-and-a-half since Dallas got to the Mission, and as a recent graduate, he barely recognizes his past life, which was consumed by drugs, homelessness, and mental illness. “When I came into the program, I was a junkie and I never had a job in my life and I never really followed Christ,” he said. “I was messed up. I would get high off of any and everything that I could get my hands on. I am now 23 years old and I have had two sober birthdays in this program. I learn something every day about my real self. I am no longer scared to live.”

Dallas grew up in Oklahoma mainly with his grandparents; his mom popped in here and there. “My dad was never in my life,” said Dallas, who found his father when he was 13. “He was eating at the rescue mission there in Oklahoma. I stayed with him for a couple nights. He was living in an abandoned house they sold drugs out of.”

Dallas took care of his dad for a bit before leaving Oklahoma at 14. Dallas was realizing that he had developed drug addictions unknowingly. “My grandmother cared for us well, but she was old, and (me and my siblings) were energetic,” Dallas said. “She would give me Xanax or (opioid painkillers) when I was growing up. I was kept very well-medicated on things that weren’t prescribed for me. I didn’t understand that just because you were upset, it didn’t mean that you take drugs or drink.”

Dallas took off to California and quit taking pills. He went back to school, but realized it was tough to be on his own. He was mostly homeless, and found himself in and out of mental hospitals.

Upon returning to Oklahoma at 17, Dallas kept using and selling drugs. “I wasn’t a very successful drug dealer,” he said. “I eventually started robbing and hurting people to get what I wanted.” He was 18 when he started using drugs intravenously. “I just roamed the streets. I stayed high, and when I started making a lot of enemies, I made my way back to California. I was trying to get clean and sober at 20. Over that year, it was hard. It’s hard without rehabilitation.”

When Dallas got to the Mission, he struggled with paranoia and unpredictable emotions. But he was encouraged by staff and other clients, and started developing positive habits. He started seeing a therapist and his relationship with God blossomed. “Cleaning house takes time and it also takes work from your side,” Dallas said. “The program builds you up from where you are in life.”

Dallas graduated from the Life Recovery Program in March. He has two jobs and is in the Mission’s Transitional Living Program now. “I go to church every Sunday,” Dallas said. “I assist with the soundboard ministry and I also am a greeter. I want everyone to feel welcomed. I try to do as much as I can.”

Dallas has chosen not to restore his family relationships at this point. His younger siblings are in foster care and his mother is still struggling with her addiction. She’s also been diagnosed with manic bipolar disorder. “She did her best,” Dallas said. “I love her but I understand being around her will contaminate my life and my sobriety.”

Dallas wants people to know that there is a way out of addiction. “God will provide the opportunity for you to get clean if you want to put in the work,” he said. “God doesn’t magically change anything. He gives you the opportunity so that you can change those things. God will give you the strength to continue.”

Dallas has nearly completed the GED program, and then plans on going to a junior college to get his certificate in Drug and Alcohol Counseling from which to build a career. “Jesus is a very big part of my life and He welcomes everybody to be a part of His,” Dallas said. “And if anybody needs a second chance, this is where it can happen.”