Celebrating Recovery

When most of us think of Thanksgiving, we imagine a cheerful time shared with family and friends gathered around a table with food, smiles and amusing stories. However, when we have a family member who is struggling with addiction, the joyous state of thanksgiving becomes embroiled with shame, embarrassment, and even sorrow.

Founded in 1914, the Midnight Mission is one of the longest operating human service organizations in the greater Los Angeles area, centered in the Skid Row community of downtown. The Mission has provided a place not only for those who directly need the help of their services offered, but a place for those who are more fortunate an opportunity to give back and be of service.

Former Boston Celtics player, Chris Herren, spoke to 300 students at Northampton High School about the dangers of substance abuse. Chris Herren lost his career due to substance abuse during a 14 year addiction to drugs that included cocaine, oxycontin and eventually heroin.

De Juan "DJ" Verret grew up in Long Beach, California and in the gang infested streets of Los Angeles. From the time he was a young child, he recalls being trapped in the belief that he was powerless to break free from the only life he knew in his neighborhood. The repetitive behavior of getting in his own way, over and over and over landed him in federal prison at 19 on drug charges for a 19-½ year sentence. These years in prison were nothing compared to the prison of DJ’s mind.

In order to help promote the importance of having fun in sobriety and to support the sober young people’s community in Los Angeles, every so often New Life House puts on special events. We invite our family, sober friends, and urge those who are newly sober to join us for a good time and introduce them to like-minded individuals striving for a new lifestyle free from the grip of drug and alcohol addiction.

AA Rule 62 – “Don’t take yourself too seriously.” Seriously. The realization that we can have fun in sobriety doesn’t always dawn on us when we first get clean. Coming into recovery, I had the mistaken idea that I was signing off on a life sentence dooming me to a future of musty wooden cellars filled with cigarette smoke, coffee stains, and grumpy old men.

"Love Yourself. Be Drug Free." is this year's theme for Red Ribbon Week.  Red Ribbon Week was established almost 30 years ago in memory of one man's work towards drug prevention.  Since then, Red Ribbon Week has been recognized nationally as a month for drug prevention and awareness.

Getting sober young is not always an easy task. A lot of the time, young people struggling with addiction may not have reached the external lows that accompany decades of hard drug abuse. Just because the outside isn’t falling apart though doesn’t mean that the inside is doing well.

The energy and emotion that we deposit into the men at New Life House can be emotionally draining at times.  But New Life House alumni, like Rory, continue to motivate us!

Chris Jones, aka Jonezen, was the 2013 Los Angeles Music Awards winner for Hip Hop Artist of the Year and is nominated this year for Hip Hop Artist of the Year and Solo Performer of the Year. He has performed at SXSW (South by Southwest music, film and interactive festival held in Austin, TX), and has a distinct musical style with a lot of heart and clever lyricism - and he’s sober!