How to Cope and Stay Clean After Prison: EP 36


Addicted to Heroin and Oxycontin

John is 24 years old and grew up a drug addict. He’s been addicted to heroin, OxyContin, etc. since he was very young and went to the federal penitentiary system as a teenager. It still didn’t stop him from using. He used drugs in prison and had gang ties. He got out for a very short time, got caught with meth again and went back to prison. While in prison, John’s brother died in a high-speed chase while high on meth. John got out again and is trying to do good this time but he’s hitting some roadblocks along the way.

Told He Should Still Be in Prison

John says, I’ve never been able to cope. I cope by selling and doing drugs. I never even had a job. I don’t have a support system. My PO tells me, I can’t be around my family. She also told me; she didn’t think I should be out of prison. She said, “All you are is a gang member and you are violent. Your actions inside the penitentiary showed me what kind of person you are, and I have no idea why you are out of prison to this day.” John is clean now and says, I’ve been doing good. I’m clean and have been working, paying my bills, not getting high but I don’t know how to handle these things when I’ve been living the fast life for so long.

John realizes he was a criminal, but he wants to change his life. Seeing his brother die, was a wake-up call for John. He doesn’t want a life just full of heartbreak. John doesn’t know why his Parole Officer is trying to hold him back by saying negative things. He doesn’t want to believe the things she’s saying.

Peer to Peer: Advice Needed for John

What’s your best advice for John? We heard from Jennifer, David, Josh, Paula, and Andrew, who each had a story to tell and had some amazing advice for John on how he can cope with life and be the person he wants to be.

Turn the Negativity into Positivity

Jennifer shares that she’s been clean for 4 years. She lived a similar lifestyle to John as far as abusing drugs but has turned her life around. Throughout the struggle, there was so much negativity, people telling her, you can’t do this, you can’t do that. Jennifer says, you have to turn the negativity into positivity and prove them wrong and prove it to yourself.

As a Convicted Felon, You have to Push Harder

David just did 16 years in prison, so he knows exactly what John is going through. He knows what it’s like to be on the streets, having nothing and nobody. He also went back to drugs as soon as he got out but has now been clean for almost 2 years now.

David’s secret is…his wife. She saved his life. David’s a 4-time convicted felon and society looks at felons like they are the scum of the earth, and he says, “We are not.” John don’t let anyone tell you aren’t worth it. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone but yourself. Just because you’ve been to prison and had hard times doesn’t mean you give up. As a convicted felon, you have to push harder to do everyday things in life. John, get rid of the negative people in your life. It bothered me that your parole officer said you weren’t worth it and should be back in prison. It’s not true. You are well worth it, John!

You are Not Alone, Find a Support System like AA Meetings

Josh said, you are not alone, John. Josh got caught with dope and a gun. He was looking at some time but ended up getting out. AA meetings have really helped him find family and a support system, and meetings are everywhere. Stay away from people that aren’t good for you and remember there is always something else you can be working on. Josh is going to school now, when years ago he was selling drugs.

Help is Out There, You Have to Want to Find It

Paula was married once before and lost her husband to cancer. So, at that time, she was devastated and turned to alcohol and drugs. She had a son and had to realize that at one point her son was everything to her. She encourages John, “Help is out there, you have to want to find it. You have to want to be able to move forward in life and not let the negative people drag you down. What your PO is saying is not true. Don’t give up. Take the resources that are out there and find someone to fully open up to.”

Succeeded When Everyone Said He Would Fail

Andrew’s been through it. He’s been on his own since he was 14 years old and raised himself. Went to prison when he was 19 and got out when he was 24 years old. Now, he has a family with 3 kids. He has owned 2 successful businesses and has succeeded when everyone else told him he would fail. You have to take all that negative energy that comes in and turn it into positive energy.

It’s a daily struggle but today, 10 years later, he’s on his way to supervise a construction job. He wanted a better life for him and his family.

What advice would you give John?

Have you been in prison? Have you been addicted to drugs or lived the life of a criminal but turned your life around? Will you share your story and what helped you get through? Share in the comments below! What you have to say could be exactly what helps John and others get through this!

Did Today’s Episode Get You Thinking?

John said he tried the NA meetings route when he first got out but had an affair with the lady in charge of the NA meeting. There are roadblocks every way you turn but as so many of the people that have been there said, you must turn the mounds of negativity into mounds of positivity. People are going to tell you that you can’t do it, that you will fail, that you will end up back in prison, but that choice is up to you. I don’t want John to give up. He’s come a long way already…holding a job, being clean from drugs, paying his bills, and looking for ways to cope. He’s already doing so well.

Resources for Substance Abuse and Addiction:

For hope and help in overcoming substance abuse and addiction, download our free eBook for information and help to overcome your addiction, Understanding Substance Abuse.
Also, check out my blogs to help you work through addiction:

You are not alone! Others struggle with similar doubts, fears, and question God sometimes. Here are some of their stories:

Need to talk to someone about how you are feeling, then: Chat with a HopeCoach at TheHopeLine.

One last thing,

My podcast, our website, everything we do is entirely listener supported. If you’d like to help us to continue our work, please make a gift right now at our Give Now page.

Remember, whatever you do, Never Lose Hope! 

Dawson McAllister
Dawson McAllister, also known as America's youth pastor, was an author, radio host, speaker, and founder of TheHopeLine. McAllister attended Bethel College in Minnesota for undergraduate work where he graduated in 1968, began graduate studies at Talbot School of Theology in California, and received an honorary doctorate from Biola University.
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