Colin hit bottom in Folsom Prison. When coming down from a dose of heroin, Colin suddenly thought “Is this it? Is this what life’s gonna be?” These questions started a fundamental shift in his thinking, a shift that led him to recovery and to Pathway Society. By starting a Substance Abuse Program while in prison, Colin identified that he wanted to change, but he was unsure as how to do so; upon leaving prison his 90 day stay with Pathway solidified his ability to change his life for the better.
Colin explains that, before his clean date of October 25th, 2009, he was tired: “body, mind, and spirit.” He’d been doing a lot of drugs and drinking in prison. His organs were shutting down. Colin needed to change, and it is his desire and willingness to do so that may have saved his life. Going to Pathways voluntarily was just the beginning of Colin’s shift in mindset that allowed him to begin his recovery process. A self proclaimed “big, scary, white guy with tons of tattoos”, Colin told his first councilor “don’t be scared of me- call me on my shit” to ensure that he would get the honest conversations he needed. In the past, Colin saw himself as “one of those St. Bernard’s with a tankard of ale around its neck: big, loyal, strong, but not too smart.” Colin would blow up and react violently, lashing out at anyone who dared make him feel stupid; something Colin now sees as a result of his always feeling insecure and “less than.” Drugs and alcohol had made his life easier, but after awhile Colin found that he just couldn’t quit. Joining AA while at Pathway and working the 12 Step Program allowed him to begin the recovery process and live a life free from drugs and alcohol.
Colin says that one of the biggest impacts of his experience while at Pathway came during one of their regular outings; recreational experiences designed to reintroduce clients to society in a positive way. On a group trip to Alcatraz Island Colin went on a tour of the jail, where he was able to stand in one of the prison’s historic cells. As he stood there, in a cell almost too similar to the ones he’d lived in during his time in prison, Colin had a spiritual experience: “it was a letting go” as he realized “I never have to go back to prison.” Colin says that this was the moment when he truly understood what his future could be, and it was a profound thought that “maybe, if I keep doing what they’re telling me [at Pathway], I never have to go back.”
Colin has been clean and sober for five years. He is active in AA and is a privileged cardholder with Pathway, which means he can pick up newer recovery clients and take them to off-site AA meetings. He works in construction and is considering joining a union so that he’ll have insurance and benefits in retirement; Colin is working hard to plan for and prepare for his future. Colin is also a competitive power-lifter with the United State Power-lifting Association, a hobby Colin began about 2 years ago when his AA sponsor encouraged him to find a positive passion in his life. Colin says that “some days are better than others” and he remains thankful that “no matter where I am emotionally, I’m clean and sober.”