November 5th, 1975 – that’s thirty-nine years clean and sober for Felix Cobarrudias. For most of his life he didn’t know he had a problem with addiction because it was the only life he knew. He grew up around drugs and alcohol, at eleven he started drinking, and eventually he and his friends got into smoking weed, doing LSD, and shooting up heroin. Name the drug and he’s done it. For years he was in and out of jail, prison, and recovery homes.
The first person to tell him he had a drug problem was one of his parole officers, “My parole officer said to me, you’re not a bad guy, you just have a drug problem, and you like to steal, because you like your drugs.” The parole officer told Felix to go to Pathway Society for treatment for 30 and after that Felix could leave if he wanted to. When he arrived at Pathway Society, they told him out of the 45 people in the program only five were going to make it, and Felix was determined to be one of the five.
During treatment Felix learned life lessons that he’d missed out on as a kid, “I learned how to live life on my own terms. I learned things that I was never taught by my parents because I was always on the streets; it’s how I grew up. Let’s put it this way, I’d be dead right now, as all of my friends are who laughed at me when I decided to stay in treatment.” The lessons he learned provided a foundation for a new, healthy life. He left treatment, went to school, and started his own gardening business.
A likeable and friendly man, Felix was nominated to become a counselor by the staff at Pathway Society. Counseling was easy for him, and he worked at Pathway Society for nine years. Because of what he went through, he could relate to people in treatment, and they could relate to him. He says people were comfortable talking to him, and seeing people successfully complete treatment and knowing he was part of their success made him feel good.
Now, Felix is retired and grateful for the journey that made him the person he is today, “Now that I’m clean and sober, I do positive stuff, I try to help people. Considering the things that have happened to me, I’ve been blessed. Pathway Society was a lifesaver for a lot of us. We always either cried about the past or worried about the future, and a way to get away from that pain is to get loaded. We didn’t know how to live a day at a time. I have a little turtle to remind me to slow down, easy does it.”