I was a total addict, I hated myself, I was unhappy. I had been trying to get clean for so long. I knew if I kept going like this I would die. I was eating out of a soup kitchen; I was homeless or living in horrible places where everyone was a drug dealer.
I hadn’t spoken to my family for close to five years and I was losing the will to live. I was afraid of living as an addict.
I tried [to get clean] so many times and every time it was like a video game, you get so far and then you take a wrong turn and you die and go back to the beginning.
I had lost my faith in humanity and I was so tired and feeling so powerless and out of control.
Anawim helped in so many ways. I knew I needed somewhere to live that could help me get clean. They empowered me, they trusted me, they invited me in, they said this is your house, they believed in me and relied on me to make the meals. They gave me a schedule. One of the biggest things that helped me is having a calendar, filling it up, being productive and staying busy.
Now, I have just got to keep taking one step at a time and stay connected to a community because a community is the biggest extinguisher of addiction. That as well as having a human connection and feeling heard. I feel connected to people here and I feel like people care about me here. I love the other guys who live in the house. I care about them a lot. Also, I love the staff here and I know that people care about me.
[They were] there in the hard times and [I know] they are actually going to help. Instead of kicking me out they are going to say “what do you need? How can we help?” That makes such a huge difference. That makes people feel safe and trusted and helps them to trust others.
I’m a part of this family and I know if I do things right, I will always be a part of this family and I just want to give back – to help stop addicts from dying and help people to get their lives together.
Here, everyone is expected to do the chores. Other places can just be a part of the problem. You are treated like a child; cleaned up after… here you clean this place, you treat it like your house. People behave when they come here, the same people that would be misbehaving at other places come here and they are more human, they are nice and they clean up, if they aren’t sober, they won’t come here, it’s like everybody’s grandma’s house.
You can make mistakes here and they will forgive you. On my 90 days clean and sober, I woke up on the wrong side of the bed and messed up a chore and I went out and used. I did heroin. Then a couple of days after that, I told Terry [Anawim’s Director]. I didn’t get booted out like any other detox place. I have seen that happen many times. They worked with me and I needed that to make it through to today.
At other places, the focus is not on ‘not using drugs’ and here the focus is on having a full life. That makes all the difference. I was coming here as an alternative to a drug treatment center and I go that and so much more.
The house is held together by the residents and the staff that care about other people and that creates a community. It’s a good format. It helps the people who need help.
I’ve never been happier in my entire life. I celebrated my year clean and sober recently. I’ve never had such a sense of peace, I love myself – I can say that today – and I love my family and I’m working on developing meaningful relationships.
I just got my driving license for the first time. I re-connected with my family after 5 years of not speaking to them, it was a big deal to reconnect to them. Now I see at least one of them once a week. My family is a big part of my life now.
I’m so glad I was able to get some ground and find the right people and with the support of the people at Anawim House. I have plans for the future and I know I will have a good life.
I wish there were more places like this. It would take a lot of the power away from addiction. People could get treated like human beings again.
I love this house. I think there should be an Anawim house in every community everywhere. It’s a format that works and it should be a blueprint for [treatment centers] everywhere.