A profile of recovery success…in his own words

I was 18 years old when my mother sent me to RAP. We lived in Ward Five—Trinidad—and she contacted City Councilman Harry Thomas looking for suggestions about how to hold on to me. Councilman Thomas called RAP. He had done this for many young men in our community as I found out later.

I was dependent on marijuana, PCP, cocaine, alcohol and cigarettes. I had already been in Psychiatric Institute for 30 days. I had already tried Job Corps. I went to the Redrock Job Corps Center in Lopez, Pennsylvania at the age of 16. I got my GED there and graduated in 14 months—ahead of time—after learning some useful building trade skills. Being a go-getter, I found my own job and worked for about a year. But the streets were calling and I got caught up in street life again. This is where I was in my life when I went into RAP.

I stayed in RAP for about 2 years and my class graduation was held at the National Cathedral. I’ll never forget it…or my experience at RAP. Although I’ve fallen several times since my first stay at RAP (I’ve been there twice), what I received at RAP is a part of who I became…a part of who I am now and who I know I will be for the rest of my life.

RAP was a blessing. The entire program was a re-education process. I learned about Africa and African American history; I was enlightened about my African roots and great men and women in the civil rights movement.

All the information provided gave me a sense of who I really am. It gave me self-pride and an understanding of my self-worth. It erased my low self-esteem and changed my view of the world. I was taught about diet and nutrition and how the foods I ate supported my recovery.

The counselors helped me to check my behaviors and attitudes. I was taught the importance of working in the community— giving back. I learned so many things and had so many positive experiences like working on RAP’s citywide substance abuse prevention campaign and the Knock Out Cocaine poster contest. I became the department head of maintenance at one of RAP’s facilities. In fact, I still know the RAP Philosophy and can recite it anytime without hesitation.

Now, I’m a full fledged journeyman electrician, a member of local 26 IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers). I own my own company, OMC Contracting (www.omccontractors.com) - licensed, bonded, and insured in the District of Columbia and Maryland. Also, I am the proud father of an 18 year old daughter who is in her first year of college. Meeting and connecting with her and being in her life for the past 7 years have been my greatest inspiration.

The thing to remember about recovery is that nobody does it alone. Everybody who is still clean has some type of support system. Whether it’s family, friends, church, AA, NA, 12 steps, or groups. And what I learned at RAP is a part of my support system. I use it in every area of my life.

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