Tom was a victim of child abuse and grew up deathly afraid of his father. As a teenager, he began running away from home and ended up in juvenile hall. He felt a sense of security for the first time in his life and was finally receiving the attention he had been seeking from his dad. When Tom was the age of 16, his parents divorced and he stayed with his mother. She didn’t have any money or job skills, so they moved into the projects of East Oakland where they survived on food stamps and welfare. In his new neighborhood, Tom learned how to fight, sell drugs, and steal cars. By the age of 20, he had an eighth grade education and no future.
At this time, Tom was introduced to heroin by his brother and found relief from fear, pain, and rejection. Within a few years of heavy drug use, he received his first prison sentence. “At first prison frightened me but after many trips it became my comfort zone,” Tom remembers. He served time in San Quentin, New Folsom, DVI, and Corcoran State Prison with a combined total of 22 years behind bars. “I destroyed three marriages and was never there for my children,” he said, and came to the conclusion that he would die in prison.
Tom landed in the Santa Barbara County Jail on a parole violation, and he heard about the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission. He remembers, “I came to the Rescue Mission with the clothes on my back. I had no self-worth, no value in myself or my life.” He received compassion and clinical treatment at the Mission and began his recovery. Tom said that he learned the importance of self-disclosure and “sharing the secrets of my past allowed me to rely upon and believe in the integrity of another human being.” He credits his recovery to the new relationship he has with God and said he found Jesus on Easter Sunday.
Tom received his certificate of completion from the 12-month Drug and Alcohol Treatment Recovery Program at the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission on Saturday, November 3, 2012. He delivered the speech for his graduating class and closed with these words, “I have lost many battles with this disease called addiction, but I believe in the end I will win the war.”