Sometimes, all it takes to try that first hit of cocaine is a little bit of pressure: pressure to do well, pressure to succeed, pressure to win, pressure to never, ever lose. Couple all of that with an inability to cope with those pressures, and you’ve got a dangerous recipe for addiction. That was my dad’s story of how he ended up at a residential drug rehab.
My dad was a championship boxer; then, he was homeless. He was homeless for ten years while I was growing up. A lot of times, I didn’t know where he was. It was hard to understand why it was just me, my brother, and my mom. For a long time, I was mad at my mom because I thought she was the one keeping him away from us. I never stopped hoping that he would come home.
As the years went by and I got older, into my late teens, I understood why my mom kept him away from us for all of those years; she was protecting us. While she didn’t want to have to tell us why our dad wasn’t around, she knew she had no other choice. One day, she eventually explained everything to us. She explained how our dad was a drug addict, in need of serious help like a residential drug rehab, and how she offered him that help, but he would not take it. She told us that it was likely that he was no longer living.
At that time, I knew we had to find him. Well, I had to find him. I had to know if he was still alive. My mom encouraged me to prepare for the worst, to prepare myself emotionally for the possibility that he had already passed a long time ago because of his drug addictions. I wasn’t ready to believe that he’d left this earth without us getting to see him again. I had not seen my dad in almost 12 years but I was fairly sure that I would know who he was when I saw him. I searched the neighborhood where we grew up, and I found him living in an abandoned house. He looked so different, I could barely recognize him. Or maybe it was just the surroundings that made him seem like a stranger. The conditions in which he lived were reprehensible, foul smelling – certainly less than safe. When I found him, he was asleep and there were pipes and other paraphernalia all around him. I held my breath. I felt for a pulse.
He was still alive.
I called 911, and he was rushed to the nearest hospital. I found out later that he had had a stroke – likely caused by his rampant drug use. I stayed by his side. When he woke up, he turned to me and mumbled my name through chokes of tears.