On a school bus in 1992 filled with some of the most talented high school kids on their way to a Show Choir competition, a teenage Shaun, who felt awkward and just wanted to fit in, began a journey that would lead him towards a road of devastation. A talented young man with the potential of a successful life ahead, halted by the time high school ended, without plans for the future. Many of his classmates had plans for college, but by this time Shaun was addicted to marijuana and felt he was a total burn out. With a miniscule glimpse of hope for the future, he decided he wanted to enroll at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. By the second year, Shaun’s addiction to marijuana had transformed into a life ruled by the darkness of methamphetamine and GHB. All hope was lost while he failed out of school, felt like he was going crazy, lost a tremendous amount of weight, and began living in a garage in East Los Angeles. As Shaun continued in a downward spiral, his parents convinced him to come home. They sought out mental health care in a state of fear for their son’s life. He was eventually diagnosed Bi-Polar. Although heartbroken, Shaun began to accept the fact that he was not only an addict, but struggled with mental illness. He started receiving Social Security and began the tedious process of finding the right medications to stabilize his mental illness enough to begin to function. Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse and it was only a matter of time before Shaun found another drug dealer and surrounded himself with other addicts destroying their lives. The talented young man began to use his extraordinary computer skills to cause emotional and financial harm to his family by stealing a fairly large sum of money. The consequences of this action landed him with not only being sentenced to 170 days community service, but all trust was lost with his family. Shaun hated himself as he fell deeper into the disease of addiction. He continued to put his family through the horror of watching him regress further and further down a debilitating path. His family had run out of ideas on how to help him. At what Shaun believed to be the end of his using career, he was living in a trailer, selling drugs from his bicycle, and working security at a liquor store. Any ounce of self-esteem that he had ever had was depleted as he fought with his girlfriend every night and continued to survive this way. He was a sad man who just wanted a way out. Shaun somehow mustered up the courage to sell his trailer for pennies on the dollar, quit his job, and was transported to The Lighthouse. He was terrified with the idea of admitting into a treatment center for 30 days. While at The Lighthouse, Shaun began to learn what it meant to be loved, to be accountable, and to just be human. For the first time in years, he actually began to love himself. Shaun discovered fairly quickly that if he did not put into practice the tools he gained during his stay, that the truth of the disease of addiction progressing is 110% valid. After a miserable relapse, Shaun went back to the only place he had ever felt completely safe, The Lighthouse. This time around, with a tremendous amount of desperation and determination to live another way, he worked seriously on his assignments and in groups. He knew something had to change and he had to do things differently. Shaun began to water the seeds of recovery that The Lighthouse had planted by applying the coping skills to his everyday life that he had been taught. Shaun became somewhat active in a 12-Step program, allowing others to walk with him through this new part of his journey, by obtaining a sponsor and working the steps. At some point, he became complacent thinking he could “drink like a gentleman”, and try it one more time. The insanity of the disease became rampant once more before the pain became so deep that he realized wholeheartedly that drugs and alcohol had nothing good to offer him. After returning to treatment at The Lighthouse, which would be the final episode, Shaun felt everything he had previously learned “click like magic”. It was now time for him to stick both feet in and completely surrender to the cunning, baffling, powerful, and progressive disease of addiction. Knowing he had to do something different this time, Shaun transitioned directly into the sober living home at The Lighthouse. It is here that he honestly began to apply all the tools he had been given that resulted in dramatic differences in his recovery. The sober living home, having the same spirit as The Lighthouse treatment program, gave Shaun the sense of belonging and safety he always longed for. It was here that he was encouraged and shown how to grow up and be a man. After some time had passed, in which he had been going to 12-step meetings, working steps with a sponsor, riding his bicycle, looking for a job, and living the clean life, the owner’s wife believed in what an asset Shaun could be to The Lighthouse. Trust had been earned as Shaun’s true character began to blossom. He was offered responsibilities such as watering and light maintenance. At this time he also made the courageous decision to attend college to become a drug and alcohol counselor and take his education “all the way”. Shaun had a strong desire to give back everything he had been given that played a part in changing his life. He was eventually offered a full time position working in the maintenance department and as a driver. He takes great pleasure in transporting clients as he shares his experience, strength, and hope with them to bring about the same feeling of hope and safety that The Lighthouse provided to him. Shaun attributes much of what he has achieved to the mentoring of his direct supervisor. Their countless conversations, the unwavering faith of administration and on the job learning experiences have played a pivotal role in Shaun acquiring the skills, mental and emotional growth, and security he now possesses. Shaun loves himself today and is determined to stay sober for the rest of his life, one day at time. Today, he is in the process of “living on his own ticket” and no longer depending on Social Security to support himself. He is aware of how his addiction disabled him to the point where he could not care for himself and how now, that he is in recovery, he is more than capable of doing so. With the right medications, working a 12-step program, and using the tools he gained at The Lighthouse, Shaun has been able to continue to succeed and grow on a daily basis. Shaun and his family are incredibly appreciative of his supervisor, the owner’s wife, and everyone else at The Lighthouse who believed in who he was and could be. Shaun feels indefinitely indebted to The Lighthouse for building a man filled with integrity out of an awkward and lonely high school teenager.
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