When did you when did you first come to CRW and how did you end up at CRW specifically?

I gave the dirties at Ujima house and they sent me to Urban Recovery in Brooklyn which is  a 28 day detox. I was supposed to go back to Ujima house but while I was at Urban recovery I heard about CRW. I heard a lot of very good things about it and that it was more strict than Ujima house. so I changed my mind and I signed up to go to CRW. My time at Urban Recovery was coming to an end and they don’t really hold anybody, so they basically dump you off to whatever. I thought I was going to end up having to go back to Ujima or to some other place that I didn’t want to go to. I prayed and the Monday morning I was supposed to leave my counselor came running into my room and said “CRW called they’ll have a bed for you on Wednesday and you can stay until then!” Wow, what luck that was. So I came to CRW on November 3rd, 2021.

What was your experience like with the residential program Pride side?

I had a lot of issues when I came there. I suffer from depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder, and I was addicted to opiates, crack cocaine, and benzodiazepines for a long time. I switched to the suboxone medication to help with that.  I’ve always had terrible anxiety like my mom had and I started taking benzodiazepines like Xanax or Valium at a young age because I was prescribed them from the doctor. I am an addict so I started taking more than I was supposed to and abusing them, and blacking out from it not doing things and I didn’t even remember what I did. But that was the only thing that completely took away my anxiety. 

I had to learn how to deal with my anxiety without taking benzodiazepines and I learned a lot of things at CRW. My Pride Site counselor was Andrew T., who was phenominal. I owe him so much, he took a lot of extra time working with me. When I was there, I was kind of running behind everybody else, or that’s what I at least perceived. I didn’t have my ID, I applied for my social security card and because of Covid months went by without me receiving it. Other guys that I started at the same time with were already in vocational and working or going to school. While I felt behind for a while I was able to catch up at the end.  I did a lot of work in the clinical groups and I really shared everything. The groups really helped me, I learned how to handle my anxiety without the pills and how to do a lot of things. 

I got my ID finally, I started the ACE program, and I was accepted into Reintegration in May 2022 (transitional program between residential and outpatient). They gave me Rosita Harris, and she was a godsend, a blessing. She’s very overqualified for the job that she does. I felt like I was getting therapy and counseling at the same time. We worked closely together mainly on my anxiety and my drug addiction. She’s really taught me new methods and things to do to better myself.  I’ve come a long way from where I was. I was a mess when I got to CRW, I was lashing out at staff, I would have panic attacks. If you were to speak with any of the staff members, they would tell you it was like night and day from when I came through that door. When I started Reintegration, I had to get a sheet signed by my clinical counselors and peer counselors and I got recommended very highly by all of them. So I really worked hard to get where I’m at, it wasn’t easy.

Just to clarify, when did you start reintegration and are you in outpatient now?

Yes I’m in outpatient now. I started reintegration late because I didn’t have my social security card to get my state ID. So finally, I got through to Social Security on the phone and they told me that they never received my application. The lady helped me she told me if I resent one certified mail, she would expedite it for me and I would have it back within a couple of weeks, which happened I was able to get my ID and start ace and that’s what I needed for the reintegration I started in May for reintegration. CRW really did me a solid, they held on to me a lot longer than they had to. I owe them everything right now. Ashley Merchant (Re-integration counselor) really did so much behind the scenes to keep me as long as possible, so I’m very grateful for everything she has done for me.

What is your current job and how do you like it?

I’m working for ACE full time right now doing sanitation. I love the work environment and the people that I work with and for. They’re great, it’s like a family. They they treat you really well.

Do you have any closing thoughts about anything that you’ve shared or anything that we’ve discussed?

I owe so much to CRW, they really went above and beyond for me. I know that because in  I’ve seen in other programs people that were problems and they got rid of them. CRW really kept me around, worked with me, and put up with a lot of my crap in the beginning.  I’m forever grateful, there’s just too many people for me to name that really went out of their way to help me. Pride Site is the only thing that I’ve completed or graduated in like the last 20 years.