Willie L. encourages others to dream big after completing the P.R.I.M.E. Program
Willie started using alcohol and drugs in his 20s. After using for over 10 years, Willie’s addiction to alcohol and narcotics eventually led him to hit bottom. Once a successful businessman, Willie’s life had become unmanageable and he had even experienced homelessness.
Going to treatment for an alcohol or drug addiction isn’t something that people wake up and think would be fun to experience. It’s costly, it’s time-consuming and for someone with an alcohol or drug addiction, it’s definitely not easy. “I didn’t think treatment was affordable, especially in my current situation, or something that was going to be very effective since it was offered for free,” Willie said. Fortunately, Willie overcome his prior reservations about attending treatment, and made a call that changed his life.
Thanks to the Personal Recovery Integrating Men’s Experiences (P.R.I.M.E.) Program at Sovereign Health’s Palm Desert facility, Willie is now in recovery and attending outpatient treatment at a sober living home in California. “I’m on fire. I’m happy, I’m making meetings, and I’m in a position in my life to make more money than I could possibly ever imagine. Since I’ve been clean, I have been able to succeed without relying on alcohol or drugs or drinking to cope,” Willie said. He now admits when he’s wrong, helps others and has improved his relationships.
The P.R.I.M.E. program treats men over 40 who have mental health and alcohol and drug use problems. “We were maxed out at 33 people,” Willie said. “The program made sure that we didn’t have to jump through hurdles. It was a smoother walk when I was with the older guys because I could relate to them and what they’d been through. People were trying to learn, while others — typically the younger people — were often a distraction. That was internally the biggest challenge for me during treatment.”
By separating the younger and older men, the P.R.I.M.E. Program overcame this problem. The fact that Willie was not interrupted with the younger men’s behaviors, Willie was able to absorb more and get more out of the treatment program. He discussed learning the different literature about different subjects related to substance abuse in groups led by the alcohol and drug counselors (AODs). “The support we received from staff in the P.R.I.M.E. Program was also really helpful,” Willie said. “When you go to rehab, your confidence is down, along with your integrity. Sometimes, some of the same things that build you up are the same things that got you there in the first place.”
Another driving factor that influenced Willie’s recovery was that he came in with an open heart and was willing to change. “You stop growing when you start using drugs and you waste time. Now, I want to do things the right way and I’m giving 100 percent, rather than trying to beat the system, taking moral inventory and accepting life on life’s terms,” Willie said. He also affirmed that he has a sponsor and works the 12 steps, attending at least one meeting per day, and reads the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) books as well as the Bible.
Willie recently started working with a new company in Cathedral City in a management position for solar panels sales; he does a lot of the sales, hires new employees and trains them. Willie stated that even though he has always attended church and followed the word of God, he now attends church three days a week. “Since I started giving him 100 percent, God has been able to manifest all of these great things that have been happening in my life. Now that I am not using alcohol or drugs and I’m giving God my all, he is now opening all the doors for me.” Willie participates in Celebrate Recovery on Fridays, attends church services at his main church on Saturdays and likes to try out different churches on Sundays.
“Be open,” Willie said. “If you’re open and willing, you’re going to get exactly out of treatment what you put in. Have an open mind and let it do what the program is designed to do. Rather than reinventing the wheel and doing it on your own, follow the 12 steps — they work. Every day, you hear testimonies, also called shares, about how it does work and it can definitely change your life too. Whatever situation that brought you into treatment, you have to let go of that and be honest with yourself.”
When Willie was asked about the advice he would offer another person thinking about going to treatment, he said: “That it’s possible. If you follow the program and don’t cut any corners, which you tend to do a lot of when you are abusing alcohol and drugs, if you don’t cut any corners, you can pretty much do anything you want to do. You have to have a higher power, because you can’t do it on your own.”