Alumni Stories

Kevin O.

Sobriety Date: 2009

kevin_oOn October 7, 2007 I was laying in the emergency room out of answers. Alcohol and drugs were killing me. I went from the emergency room to a two week stay in the psych ward where I was sitting when Will showed up to take me to PRC. I was a resident at PRC and continued with the Outpatient program. PRC gave me the foundation I needed to deal with life on life’s terms and saved my life.

My life was a mess when I arrived – I had been fired and accused of embezzlement, my wife had filed for divorce, I was facing child custody hearings and was pretty certain my previous employer would contact LAPD about the embezzlement. I had drank and used for over 30 years. I had never tried to quit and truthfully had I not been locked in a psych ward and then PRC I probably would have ran. I had accomplished much drinking and using and it worked for many years. I had been in trouble before and actually gone to prison but the insanity of the disease told me that was not so bad. I came out and got a great job despite my record and one day I picked up and within 9 months my world came crashing down.

For some reason I listened to what was said at PRC as I knew I had no answers. I had so many outside issues going on it was difficult to stay present. My experience at PRC was that everyone genuinely cares. I was encouraged to carry on and that I had to put my sobriety first or there was no way to handle the issues. When a plan was being written for me to transition from inpatient to outpatient I was encouraged to attend a meeting the day I left PRC and to find a sponsor. To this day I do not know why but I went and I found my first sponsor. I did 90 meetings in 90 days while continuing with the outpatient program. I got my first sober job at a produce company which was run by a guy in the program. Although certainly not the white collar job I was accustomed to but it was a start. I was going to meetings, working the steps; living in sober living, working and life was getting better.

On July 3, 2008 before sunrise I was woken up by the sound of my bedroom door being kicked open and LAPD was paying me a visit. I would not come home until August of 2010. I spent 9 months in LA County Jail and the balance of the time in prison – all sober. With the help of people in the program I got placed in a drug and alcohol program while in LA County Jail. In prison I helped get AA going in the facility I was in. By the time I got out I was almost 3 years sober and had never celebrated a birthday on the street.

The day after I got out I went to the same meeting I had gone to after I got out of PRC. I was welcomed back. I kept going to those meetings even though life was challenging. Through a series of events I ended up in sober living, broke and unemployed. I contacted the man who gave me a job at the produce company and he told me to come to work the next day. It then dawned on me that I was in sober living in Santa Monica and my new job was past downtown and I had no car. For almost a year I rode the bus 6 days a week for two hours each way. I did not realize at the time I was being taught humility and how to show up no matter what.

Two years later I am still working at the produce company and I am part of the management team. I am so grateful for the lessons my boss, his controller and others in the program have taught me on how to be a man, an honest employee, a father and a solid partner for my fiancé. I have learned that nothing must come before my sobriety and I do all I can to stay in the middle of AA.

PRC provided a caring and safe environment for me to develop a solid foundation I could take out into the world. Sobriety has not always been easy and I have faced many life challenges. Today I have no secrets and I am not running from anyone. I strive to do the best that I can and stay out of the results and I take one day at a time. To Mike Bloom and the rest of the staff I am proud to say that today I have 5 ½ years sober and I am forever grateful to PRC.


 

Kemo Douglas Newsome

Sobriety Date: April 9, 2007

kemo_douglas_newsomeI AM GRATEFUL TO THE POWER OF THE UNIVERSE – THE POWER OF CHANGE – THE POWER OF HOPE – THE POWER OF WILLINGNESS – THAT HAS ALLOWED ME TO LIVE TWO LIFESTYLES IN ONE LIFETIME.

The addict/alcoholic – is the master of illusion and deception!

I DID NOT LOVE MYSELF and as a result, I used drugs, alcohol and relationships to cope with years of internalized fear, shame, guilt, anger, self-hatred, confusion about my sexuality and my place in this world.

I have been clean and sober since Monday, April 9, 2007 when I entered treatment at the Pasadena Recovery Center (PRC) in Pasadena, California.

There are three significant events that changed the course of my life while in treatment at PRC:

1: The night I was given the “Keys to the Kingdom” (The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous)

The clarity that came with the safety of being in treatment brought with it a lot of guilt and shame about the things I had done and the people I had hurt while in my active addiction. This particular night, I was very depressed about the break-up of my relationship with my ex- boyfriend. I found one of the night staff members and began to talk with him about how I felt. This man who has 22 years of sobriety stopped me in middle of my dramatic story and asked me “ Do You Have a Big Book “….I said no and he went and got me the one book that has changed my story.

The man opened the book to page 417 and had me read:

AND ACCEPTANCE IS THE ANSWER TO ALL MY PROBLEMS TODAY. WHEN I AM DISTURBED, IT IS BECAUSE I FIND SOME PERSON, PLACE, THING OR SITUATION – SOME FACT OF MY LIFE – UNACCEPTABLE TO ME, AND I CAN FIND NO SERENITY UNTIL I ACCEPT THAT PERSON, PLACE, THING OR SITUATION AS BEING EXACTLY THE WAY IT IS SUPPOSED TO BE AT THIS MOMENT. NOTHING, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, HAPPENS IN GOD’S WORLD BY MISTAKE. UNTIL I COULD ACCEPT MY (ALCOHOLISM) ADDICTION TO DRUGS AND ALCOHOL, I COULD NOT STAY CLEAN AND SOBER; UNLESS I ACCEPT LIFE COMPLETELY ON LIFE’S TERMS, I CANNOT BE HAPPY. I NEED TO CONCENTRATE NOT SO MUCH ON WHAT NEEDS TO BE CHANGED IN THE WORLD AS ON WHAT NEEDS TO BE CHANGED IN ME AND IN MY ATTITUDES.

It was as if the heavens had opened up, as I understood and was comforted by this truth.

2: My Spiritual Experience at PRC

One evening during my residential inpatient I had a “Spiritual Experience” that has changed the course of my life and was the anchor that secured my full surrender to the 12-Step Recovery Process.

Late one night, I couldn’t sleep and got up from bed. As I walked through the hallway on my way to the group room, I encountered and began a conversation with another night staff assistant. We began talking about life, death, my recovery and the spirits of loved ones who are no longer living. It was a really interesting conversation that brought me to tears when he shared the following with me:

He said: “Did you have a grandmother that had something wrong with her neck or her throat” (my maternal grandmother died from throat cancer)

I Said: “Yes”

He Said: “Did she like Gardenia’s”

(At this point, I got goose bumps all over my arms (and now as I am typing this) I Said: “Yes”

He Said: “K She wants you to know that she loves you very much and that she knows that you that you have been trying to do the right thing in your life but have failed because you don’t believe in yourself. She wants you to love yourself and everything will be alright!”

At this point I am crying. He was talking about my maternal grandmother Jacqueline Louise Johnson. Grandma Jackie died in the early 1990’s and she did love the scent of Gardenia’s.

Before entering into treatment, I had never met nor spoken to this man in my life. I did not include information about my Grandma Jackie in my intake paperwork at PRC nor did I discuss anything about her with anyone while at PRC prior to this conversation.

I am also grateful to the members of the 185 Group of the Fellowship of Cocaine Anonymous with saving my life, by opening their arms to welcome an embrace me with individual support, when I came to my first meeting on Tuesday, April 17, 2007, while at PRC.

THESE THREE EXPERIENCES CHANGED MY LIFE

My insurance would only support 28 Days of Inpatient Residential Treatment. The morning I discharged from PRC, I remembering getting into my car, driving to my apartment, dropping of my belongings and then heading to a meeting. It is what I had been told to do and I did exactly that!

When I was actively using, wanting to become a Certified Addiction Specialist, hell I wanted to do and become lots of things while using. However, all I was ever actually able to do in that state was – TALK WHICH EQUALED ZERO ACTION

Through the process of recovery, I was led to a personal introduction with the Director of the Alcohol and Drug Studies Program at Glendale Community College. He invited me to find out about the program and enroll. In August of 2007, I did just that (at four months Clean and Sober). I graduated from the program on Friday, June 5, 2009.

TODAY –

I just celebrated 2 years Nicotine and Tobacco free on January 16, 2013

While sobriety remains the most important aspect of my life “we are not a glum lot “

In May 2011, I quit my job, sold my car and said farewell to a host of friends and family and took a flight from Los Angeles, California to Paris, France.

I am officially here to learn French, but that is but a side benefit to sharing a new life experience my significant other, who happens to be French!

RECOVERY IS INTERNATIONAL. The “City of Lights” has a huge English Speaking Recovery Community that has embraced and welcomed me.

THANK YOU ….. PASADENA RECOVERY CENTER and A POWER GREATER THAN MYSELF THAT BLESSED THE BROKEN ROAD THE LED ME STRAIGHT TO YOU
Gratefully,

Kemo Douglas Newsome
PRC Alumni – April 2007


 

Kris Martin

Sobriety Date: January 8, 2010

kris_martinOn January 8th, 2010 I had my first day of not taking any drink or drug in 10 years. It would be a rough 30 days but with guidance, love, patience, tolerance and education the staff of PRC helped me navigate through my first 30 days of sobriety. The one thing I could actually wrap my head around was Bob telling me to keep it simple at first. DO NOT USE NO MATTER WHAT! As bad as the emotional and physical rollercoaster was I would just keep telling myself that over and over. I found people like Butch, Bob and Will that knew how and wanted to help me, but most importantly BELIEVED in me when I couldn’t for myself. Aside from never missing a scheduled group or meeting I stayed out of the drama the best I could and listened to what was being explained to me. Sponsor + steps + meetings = sobriety. I couldn’t really make sense of the Big Book then so I chose to try and relate to what people spoke about and determined that if they were once where I was at…if I did what they said…I could one day be where they were. I woke up early, did my ‘chores’, worked out and then helped in the kitchen or with whatever I could to be of service and get out of my own head for a few minutes. I instantly reaped the rewards.I took the advice to transfer to a sober living and found one that kept me accountable in West Hollywood.

As soon as I left PRC I went straight to my meet up with my new sponsor, dropped my things off in my new room and went walking for my first meeting. I did 6 mile loops throughout West LA hunting for a job and stopping at 3 meetings a day along the way for my first 90 days. I slowly found my way out to the Valley and spent another 60 days at another sober living where I continued to practice everything I had learned at PRC. I was given a job opportunity working for a record label all from connections I made through AA & NA and my continued participation and effort towards getting my life back on a spiritual path. Now I didn’t do the program perfectly and went through another 2 sponsors before actually getting through more than the first 2 steps but I eventually did complete all 12 steps and continue to practice everything I was taught and eventually came to believe in. I saw how dramatically my life changed because of this process.I recently moved back to my hometown which was quite the transition, but was so much smoother and manageable with the things I’ve learned in our program. I am still finding my way to many different meetings and have found a homegroup and am currently looking for sponsees. I am part of my families life again and recently became an Uncle to a nephew and a niece. I have a graphic design business and a clothing company I’ve finally gotten back to being able to run. I have a great girlfriend who is also very active in the program and our dog Bubba. All these things wouldn’t have ever been possible without those lessons I learned early on while in PRC. The only way to learn however is be open and listen to others who have been through many of the same trials and tribulations all of us addicts go through on our ever lasting path to a healthy, happy, spiritual existence free from all substances.

Don’t try to figure it all out right away, keep it simple and cut yourself some slack. This is a process of spiritual evolution and no one figures it all out on their first try or even their second. It is possible and I am happy to still have great contact and relationships with all the people I’ve met along my path in recovery and be able to share with you one more story of success thus far. I still take it one day at a time and remember not to think too far down the road. Okay, meeting time, gotta go get myself a cake and a 3-year coin! Stay strong, hang in there and listen to BUTCH!


 

Whitney O-E.

Sobriety Date: July 27, 2005

whitney_o-eNovember 2, 2012
“I remember waking up in total fear and anxiety at PRC because I didn’t have an ID… it seemed like an insurmountable task, getting identification…but I just did one step at a time. I worked through my legal issues. I was a Prop 36, (a California program that emphasizes rehab over jail) and got a job waiting tables. I rode a bike all around Pasadena for two years!”

“My sobriety date is June 27, 2005. After that it was just about putting one foot in front of the other. Now I am the Government Relations Manager for a national nonprofit that addresses disparities in the provision of healthcare for those affected by the disease of addiction. I lobby Congress and the Administration to promote policies and programs that support communities, families and individuals negatively impacted by drug use.”

“If you can find something that you are passionate about, it will move you along to where you need to be.”

“I am most proud of my wonderful family — my husband Joshua, and two-year-old son Nathan.”

And we at PRC are all so proud of Whitney and countless others like her. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that life after addiction is boring. There are so many Whitneys out there who show, day after day, that recovery can be fun and rewarding.


 

Jennifer W.

Sobriety Date: February 13, 2012

jennifer_wWhen Jennifer arrived at the Pasadena Recovery Center on February 13th she felt her “life was ruined”. After 11 years of alcoholism, three DUI’s (one car crash) and a bevy of worried (and terrified) friends and family, Jennifer’s life had hit rock bottom. A bit more than six months later, however, Jennifer uses words like “great,” “wonderful,” and “fantastic” to describe her state of mind as she leaves PRC for a sober living facility where she plans to stay for, at least, the next half year.

Jennifer credits a long list of PRC staff – “Shelly was great, Karen was great, Roz and Rhonda were great” – with helping her turn her life around. But she holds a special place for Liz (program assistant Elizabeth M.): “She was the person who helped me first and foremost. I had so many great talks with her.”

Teary-eyed PRC program assistant, Roz A.-V., expressed what many staffers felt watching Jennifer drive away: “Seeing such an amazing turnaround, especially as a recovering addict myself, is my reward. That’s why I love my job.”

We can’t help but cheer for Jennifer and believe her when she says, “I’m ready to go. I want this more than anything in my life.”


 

Katie M.

Sobriety Date: 2006

katie_mHello, my name is Katie M. and I was admitted to PRC in 2006. I was 18 and was suffering from kidney failure. I had my very first dialysis treatment while I was staying at the Pasadena Recovery Center and Will Smith was the one to drive me to the clinic. A few months later I had a kidney transplant that failed soon there after due to complications and medication negligence. As soon a I left the transplant hospital I came back to Pasadena to stay at a sober living house down the street and frequented PRC meetings. Butch was my counselor while I was there and both he and Will made a positive impact on my life. At this point I have been on dialysis for 6 years at age 24 but I have not used since leaving your facility six years ago. Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you to Butch and Will and to let them know that I am sober, happy and optimistic. Thanks PRC!

The Experience

Admissions Process

Many people find the very idea of entering a rehab facility daunting. We at the Pasadena Recovery Center want to ease your fears and assure you that we will be here with you every step of the way. Many people believe that the hardest step is the very first one – contacting us – and then it gets progressively easier.


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Typical Day

A typical day at PRC consists of specialized groups such as Anger Management, Grief and Loss, Relationships, Relapse Prevention, Gratitude Group, Groups hosted by Mackenzie Phillips, Gary Richman, and more. Also you’ll get one-on-one counseling sessions with our specialized treatment team, as well as family sessions.


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Expert Speakers Series

At the Pasadena Recovery Center we regularly bring in community leaders and addiction experts to educate our residents, alumni and staff. For example, the Nation’s top drug official, Gil Kerlikowske (photo right), spoke about the California marijuana legalization ballot measure (Prop. 19) prior to the 2010 election.


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  • "Bob is the most talented chemical dependency counselor I've ever seen. Simple. Period."

    ~ Dr. Drew Pinsky

  • “Shelly the Shark always has the answers to everything. I want to thank you for being so tough on me.”

    ~ Ricco Rodriguez, Former UFC Champ

  • “That’s what we need, we need Shelly there everyday kicking our ass.”

    ~ Seth Binzer, Shifty Shellshock