Treatment Enables Victory over Drug Abuse
An Alumni Story about Gateway Graduate, Everett G.
"Partying" was getting the best of Everett G., who had been abusing alcohol and crack cocaine for about 20 years. Over those years, he repeatedly let down his father, sisters, brothers, nieces and nephews and damaged his relationships with his children and their mother. By the time his second child was born, the toll his abuse was taking became obvious to him.
Everett compares his experiences with cocaine and alcohol to being in a boxing ring, fighting a 12-foot monster. "I'm in the ring and I'm not even swinging any more – just taking punches. And I'm wondering why nobody threw in the towel, why nobody's helping me. I turn around and look in my corner and I notice there's nobody there, nobody at the fight with me. On December 10, 2013, I had the bright idea to get out of the ring."
A staff member at Jackson Park Hospital recommended Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers to Everett and then his union steward and EAP representative at work helped him get into a program. Over the course of his alcohol and crack cocaine abuse, Everett had been in and out of six different treatment facilities. "Participating in treatment at Gateway was one of the best experiences of my life. I knew I needed help again and I'm glad I went to Gateway," Everett said. As consequence of abusing drugs, Everett had closed himself off emotionally and spiritually, losing his connection with principles and his spiritual side. He believed he could lead a sober life if he could reconnect to his spiritual life. He explained, "I know the enemy is the disease and once it isolates me, it's got me. Once I connect through the love and the people, it's hard to go outside the lines and drink and use drugs again." He said at Gateway, he felt a level of love he had never experienced before, but also points out that he was ready to receive that love.
Everett said that Paul, the director of the men's unit at Gateway Chicago, was especially influential and that he paid attention to every individual in the program. "His heart was in it and he helped me everywhere he could. I could go to him for anything," Everett said, adding "Everyone was so approachable and I could go to anyone with a problem. The level of caring is just over the top."
Everett said the coping skills he learned at Gateway prepared him for the "boxing match" he was going to have for the rest of his life. During his treatment, Everett discovered the best way to prepare for the fight was to stay out of the ring, or "stay away from people, places and things" that can bring you down. He pointed out that sometimes the fight comes to you, and compared his newly acquired coping skills to learning how to uppercut, jab and dodge to win the match.
Everett's initial inpatient treatment program extended to 60 days and he's grateful for Gateway's help in working with his health insurance company to obtain the additional time in treatment he needed. . Following his program, he went to a halfway house where he met people who were instrumental to his success on the second portion of his recovery journey. He chose to participate in both intensive outpatient (IOP) and basic outpatient (BOP) programs at Gateway. "The aftercare programs set Gateway Chicago apart from anywhere else I went. The programs are there for you when you need the support" Everett said.
Everett sees staying connected as essential to his continued sobriety, participating in the Alumni Program and chairing its Leadership Program, through which he reaches out to people who are fresh from treatment to see how they're doing and give them a sense of hope. He believes maintaining the friendships he made during treatment and making new connections is a great addition to his life. "My new friends understand what I'm going through in a way that people who are not in recovery cannot." he explained.
Everett offers his interpretation of the significance of Gateway's name. "They're saying, 'walk through this door and change your life.' They provide the gateway, a process to live by.".
Everett would like to extend a special thanks from the deepest part of his heart to everyone from the morning and afternoon receptionists, through intake, nursing and alumni support - to Sally Thoren, the Executive Director at the center. This includes the entire lunch room staff, maintenance team, staff at Kedzie house and especially his counselor Billy Cobb.
"Everyone went above and beyond my expectations to help me on my path to recovery. I will never be able to thank them enough."