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Phillip stops addiction cycle, graduates program

Phillip graduated from the Life Recovery Program in May.

Phillip graduated from the Life Recovery Program in May.

‘Alcohol kept intervening’ throughout his life

Phillip was raised “European in America,” he said, as his French parents had immigrated and had him and his brother in the U.S. He was a “straight-A student, and a hard worker. That was the number-one emphasis in our family, was that you work hard. I took on too much, too soon. I started to stress out.”

Phillip’s parents owned a restaurant with a bar. He started by sneaking some liquor from the bar once a month or so, but was consistently drinking by his 20s.

As he got older, Phillip continued to turn to vodka to calm his stress. He worked hard and owned his home. He strove for quietness and relaxation to calm himself, but “alcohol kept intervening. The way my brother puts it is that I have a hard time with the on-off switch on drinking. Once I turn it on, I can’t turn it off.”

At 33, Phillip lost someone close to him. “A friend who lived with me for five years died by suicide,” he said. “I had sobered up, but I took it very hard, and decided to go on a drinking binge. By the time I woke up I had lost everything that I’d ever worked for—my job, my house, my credit.”

Phillip put back the pieces and eventually got his trucking license in 2005. He became a truck owner-operator and got married. “I started feeling too much pressure, so I went back to what I always relied on to feel better (alcohol). I lost my license, my house, my big rig—I lost it all, all over again. I was like a dog chasing its tail.”

Since COVID hit, Phillip has been homeless off and on. “I just ran across the Mission one day and started asking questions. They told me they had a program and it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Without it, I would still be on the streets or dead now.”

Since Phillip came to the Mission, he’s been most moved by his relationship with God. “I was lacking knowledge of Christ,” he said. “I was never pushed to learn it. In 2012, I was interested. I wanted to see what other people were seeing. But after my DUI, I went my own way. I’ve been learning the Bible, and seeing that if you adhere to it, you are going to have a good life. It’s been nice to share together, work together, and talk about things on your mind.”

Phillip graduated from the Life Recovery Program in May. He is currently living in the Mission’s transitional housing and looking for employment. “My ultimate goal is to work with orphanages in Mexico,” he said. “I’ve never had children, but they fascinate me. I want to think like they think. They are so trusting. To see everything through a child’s eyes, they just don’t get complicated like we do.

“I still have a wife—she’s in Mexico—but I chose alcohol over her. I would love to restore my life with her.”

As for the program, Phillip is still singing its praises. “It’s going to do anybody a lot of good,” he said. “You just have to be open-minded and understand that it’s not all about you. People have to want it for themselves. If they do, the help is out there.”

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