Six days before checking himself into Prairie Center’s Residential Center in downtown Champaign, TJ blew over $3,000 on cocaine in a matter of days.
He has a grizzled look about him — one that speaks directly to his 38-years of drug and alcohol abuse.
But something finally changed that March afternoon for the mustached Central Illinois native. That summer day, TJ knew he had hit rock-bottom and had just one last chance in him.
“When I came down off my high I just knew this had to be it. And I knew I could not do it on my own.”
The 57-year-old had been in and out of outpatient services for years trying to beat his addiction. He’d even been under the care of a psychiatrist for help. But nothing could tear him away from the escaping allure of drugs.
His habit came with steep consequences: he’s served multiple prison sentences for drug felonies. It had all torn his family apart.
But something now tugged at TJ more than drugs: a yearning to reconnect with his kids and a desire to work — to be productive. “I just want a regular life,” he says, “And honestly, I knew this was my last shot.”
A deep desire for change coupled with a lack of insurance sent TJ to our front doors. And so began his stay at Prairie Center and his participation in our residential services.
“The tools and skills began to come,” he said of his first few weeks in residential. “It was a different experience — this time it was a meaningful one.”
TJ says his mind was opened to looking into the internal reasons why he did drugs. “I realized I needed to focus on fixing me. On really fixing me. And when I did that, the drug problem would be fixed.”
TJ attended a range of individual and group therapy and counseling sessions as well as some group classes and to help him build new skills, gain confidence, and map a new life moving forward.
“I’ve explored areas of my life I never even thought about before,” he says. “And I’ve talked about things here I’ve never discussed with others.”
TJ’s Counselor says that he arrived at Prairie Center like a sponge, really wanting to learn and change.
“I’m not gonna lie,” the former bricklayer says. “It’s been a 38 year mess. It’s going to be a long road to change that — to change my thinking, my friends, my habits. But I look at my kids and I know this is going to save my life. And maybe save theirs.”
In August, TJ completed his residential stay with Prairie Center. “I know I cannot change what I have been, but I know that I can change what I am now.”
“This is truly a life-changing place.”