I have not been working with Jeff for long, but he has shared with me how mental illness and addiction took over his life. This is what we call a “Two-fer”: two successes, one story.
Jeff joined the Marines at the age of 17, after his father co-signed to get him enlisted. Jeff served his time and loved every minute of it. Jeff was proud to serve his country and was proud to be a Marine. However, addiction came early for him. Drugs and alcohol (at that time) were very accessible to him on the military bases and Jeff over-consumed them both. By the time he was 21, Jeff was told he was an alcoholic, but he did not agree with the doctor.
Jeff got out of the military and continued to drink and abuse drugs. He was also experiencing symptoms of Bipolar Disorder with psychotic features, but didn’t realize it at that time. Jeff reported that by the time he was on the streets, he was a very scary individual. He reports that he was “out of [his] mind,” with mental illness and addiction. He was in and out of jail (totaling around 45 arrests). Jeff lived on the streets for several years until he was contacted by an attorney regarding his family’s estate.
I have been meeting with Jeff regularly. I sometimes feel that I am simply a sounding board for him when he wants to talk about his new ideas. I have provided him with several resources though. Even more impressive is that he provides me with resources quite often. He is grateful for the monthly interaction with me and is always happy to have someone to talk to. He is so proud when he is able to report what he has accomplished in the last month.
Jeff was the listed as executor of the estate. However, because he had been homeless, his family could not locate him. His older brother had contested the will and stepped in as the executor but was not being honest and was stealing money and selling off items that did not belong to him. Recently Jeff was able to attend court and take back the role he was designated to be, as the Executor. There is a lot of land, money, jewelry and property at stake; and Jeff is excited to be fair and give it all to the correct people. He also has plans to sell off some property in order to purchase a home of his own.
All the while, Jeff was working on his sobriety through AA and obtained support through Goodwill Industries. Jeff is now housed and is celebrating 3 years of sobriety. He has even been a sponsor to someone else. He has done well with his responsibility and is now going through the process to provide AA in the jails to the inmates. He told me that it is going to be “very cool and weird to go into the jail and then be able to leave.” He laughed very hard at this thought.
Jeff also recently told me that he often talks to homeless folks that are suffering with addiction. He talks to them about AA and always offers to take them to rehab if they are willing. Within the last month, Jeff personally took someone to MATS DETOX so they could get the help they needed. Jeff is proud of his accomplishments and wants to pay it forward in the community.
Submitted by: Brooke Rechner, S.M.A.R.T. Service Coordinator