Paul spent most of his adult life in-and-out of prison, and refers to himself as having been a chemically dependent criminal offender. Being institutionalized was commonplace, and “life was hopeless.” When his parole officer and commissioner sentenced Paul to 90 days at Pathway Society, he was forced to go, kicking and screaming, and for the first month he called the staff cops in protest. Then something started to change. Now, nearly five years later, Paul is clean and sober and works as a substance abuse councilor at a treatment recovery facility.
Paul explains now that his drug and alcohol dependency was only part of the trouble, and that the larger problem was rooted in his thoughts and behaviors: Paul says that “I thought my problem was with methamphetamines, I didn’t see my behavior. I had a lot of guilt and shame.” Luckily Paul connected with his councilor, who was able to challenge his thought process and introduce Paul to AA. On New Year’s Day, 2011, Paul met his sponsor and began the 12 Step Program. Pathway provided Paul with the structure he needed in order to make a change in his life; he says that he benefited from a lot of the different groups, as well as meeting other people going through recovery that he could look up to. Paul saw a returning cardholder, who had been through the Pathway Society program, visit the house to pick up and take members to AA meetings, and it inspired Paul to one day do the same.
Paul says he is thankful for “all the family relationships and support” that he has regained since becoming clean. There are things he regrets from his past, but he is proud that he’s been able to rebuild relationships with his brother: he says “they are best friends again.” Paul will graduate this spring from San Jose City College with a degree in Alcohol and Drug Studies, and he is dedicated to helping his clients “challenge their belief systems”, the way his councilor once did for him during his stay with Pathway Society. Paul is most proud of being considered reliable and dependable, and he seems slightly bemused about how much his life has changed since becoming clean; explaining that “before they wouldn’t even answer my calls, now people call me for help.”