Alonzo Grape, Recovery Coach
Association of Persons Affected by Addiction (APAA)
I grew up a privileged black child with parents who had college-level jobs. My mother placed an emphasis on speaking proper English and being articulate. Socializing was tough–the neighborhood kids picked on me for not knowing how to speak slang. They said I walked and talked like a “white boy” and made me uncomfortable in my own skin. To make things worse, I attended a predominately white school where the students were quick to call me the “N” word. As a child I felt like I would never fit in anywhere.
My identity crisis carried on through high school. Even though I was a good baseball player, I was still shy and lacked social skills. A teammate of mine told me to have a drink to make me relax, and it worked! So, my social crisis was over. With alcohol, I felt like I fit in with everybody. By the time I went to college I was a full-blown alcoholic. I lost my baseball scholarship and got thrown out for fighting. While I graduated from another college, I still abused marijuana, alcohol, and cocaine. I was diagnosed with extreme anxiety shortly after college, a condition for which I now take medication.
After college, I continued to struggle with drugs. I started hanging out with gangsters and tried to fit in. My cocaine use led to heroin, which made me feel invincible. As a result of my drug use, I got into trouble with the law and was in and out of prison. I went to five different treatment centers and chronically relapsed. I wanted to stop using but couldn’t; my situation felt hopeless.
At that point in my life, I was introduced to a man who told me that drugs were the wrong answer to my problems. I had a revelation and started seeking help. Starting the recovery process gave me hope. I got a sponsor, started going to recovery meetings, and now I am three years clean. I am a recovery coach, a father, a son, and a friend–this only happened through long-term recovery.