September is National Recovery Month. A few local clean and sober folks, from different walks of life, with different lengths of sobriety, share what they love most about their journey in recovery.
BY PAULO MURILLO
“There are so many things I love I about sobriety. I love that I get to be service to others. I dealt drugs for 14 years, so being of service is a way of giving back and paying it forward in recovery. I am of service any way I can be. I am the chair of a 12-step program that deals with meth this year. I have six men I mentor in their journey of recovery. I’m grateful for the remarkable men who have gone before me. They helped pave the way and sometimes my best teachers are the men who are new in sobriety with a few hours or a few days. Being of service gives me a sense of belonging. I felt alone inside for so many years. I don’t feel like that anymore. I love being sober.”
—Mike Cativo, sober since May 10, 2009.
“Sobriety gives me the freedom to be my authentic self. I am free to be gay and a recovering alcoholic in a city that accepts both. I am not a drug user trapped in the cage of mental obsession. Being sober allows me a connection to a spirituality that I had never experienced before. It’s great to be happy and joyous again. But it is amazing to be free.”
—James Vituscka, sober since April 7, 2013
“Numbing and escaping arrived to its void and tireless fail and I now enjoy the peace and clarity that replaced the chaotic threshold I was once conditioned to. Sobriety to me is about the completeness and wholeness of self-care, self-love and overall responsibility that in turn teaches the gift of values life holds dear.”
—Shaene Fanton, sober since June 6, 2004.
“I’ve lived in the middle of the party scene and I’ve lived on the outside looking in, and I can tell you that I prefer being level-headed and clear-minded. I was able to retire from a lucrative career in insurance administration and litigation and am now able to work with people in recovery. I get a huge sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when I am able to be a role model and inspiration to those who are struggling with addiction. I want them to know that if someone like me can create a new life without mind-altering substances, so can they. There is hope. Live your life. One day a time.”
—Jonathan Chang, sober since July 11, 2010.
“I have no regrets. I don’t like all that I did in my addiction and the people I hurt along the way. But I learned from it and have become the better man I am today. Sobriety, for me, has become a new design for living—a second chance to embrace the world that was promised to me as a child; to right my wrongs, face my fears, and start living for others instead of for me. Today, I have a future full of love, hope and promise. Today, I have a life I never imagined would come true. And it’s only the beginning.”
—Robert Gamboa, sober since November 28, 2009
“My longing for intimacy, peace of mind and understanding lead me to my addictions. At first, drugs and alcohol seemed to work, but they only ever bring the opposite of my longings. Sobriety gives me the chance of finding them in a reality I share with other sober men and women and not in the illusions of a substance or behavior.”
—Nolan Willis, sober since August 8, 2014.
“I love that it’s given me my life back. It’s changed my perspective on everything. When I look at my life when I first got sober and my life today, and it’s like night and day. Everything has changed. When I started this journey, I worked at a high-end furniture store as a show room manager and now I’m a certified Pilates instructor and I have several certifications in personal training. I love being of service. I love helping people reach their fitness goals. That was not my life over five years ago. I feel like I can do anything in sobriety.”
—David Minicucci, sober since November 14, 2009.
“After my HIV positive diagnosis, I didn’t trust myself to do the work it would take to live my life until I was happy again. But a thought occurred to me: what else was I doing that was so much more important than living? It was then that I decided to accept the challenges of life instead of try and escape them. And what I love about being sober now is that I get to experience all of my life as it is, truly. Nothing can take away how I really feel, even if it is bad, because it’s my life and I do not welcome that retreat from myself anymore. I am lucky to be alive, and if my life was cut short? I know I would miss the bad days, too.”
—Jeremy Moon Beam Pace, sober since October 30, 2011.
SOBER RESOURCES IN WEHO
A variety of facilities catering to the recovering community.
TWIN TOWN TREATMENT CENTERS
Most people walk by Twin Town Treatment Center and don’t even know it. Located on the Corner of Santa Monica Blvd and Hancock Ave, next to Gym Bar, Twin Town has been operating in West Hollywood since 2006, but this outpatient treatment center has been servicing the recovery community in Southern California for over 28 years. The clients at Twin Town practice concepts and are taught techniques during the course of their treatment, while living in their natural environment, allowing the treatment to be translated immediately into the client’s everyday life. Their program focuses on physical chemical dependency; drug addiction related thinking and behavior, strained and alienated relationships, and the spiritual sense of remorse, hopelessness and loneliness.
For more information, visit drugalcoholaddictionlosangeles.com or call (310)299-8061.
MY 12 STEP STORE
Across the street from Twin Town Treatment Center is the My 12 Step Store recovery bookstore and gift store. Located on 8730 Santa Monica Blvd—on the corner of Santa Monica and Huntly Dr., this sober shop is considered a Los Angeles curiosity, specializing in all forms of recovery, be it addiction to sex, food, gambling, narcotics, co-dependence, and there’s even a section for Emotions Anonymous. Home of their signature Speaker Water, the store also sells medallions marking several milestones in recovery, books, apparel, candles and they recently added a new high-end jewelry line called Surrender Jewelry. The store will celebrate 11 years of love in service during Recovery Month in September.
For more information, visit their online store at my12stepstore.com.
THE WEST HOLLYWOOD RECOVERY CENTER (WHRC)
Located at 626 North Robertson Boulevard, only walking distance from The Abbey Bar, the WHRC is a space for positive social exposure and provides meeting places for any officially recognized 12-step group. It also provides assistance with recovery to addictions, prevention, and education to those in need. Their goal is to act as trusted servants, to hold 12-step meetings and related social activities within this environment, and to foster 12-step programs and the 12 traditions associated with these programs as a way of life.
For a schedule meetings held at WHRC, visit thewhrc.org
KLEAN TREATMENT CENTER
Another treatment center in the heart of WeHo, KLEAN Treatment Center is located at 850 Hilldale Ave. Those familiar with the San Vicente Inn will recognize the location, since a good portion of the San Vicente Inn, which was notoriously known as a den for hustlers and tweakers, is now part of Klean Treatment Center. The 28-bed luxurious treatment facility offers many different treatment services for anyone suffering from addiction, alcoholism or a dual diagnosis. Treatments include detox and stabilization, residential and outpatient treatment (morning and evenings) and aftercare services. Every Sunday, KLEAN hosts alumni barbecues and meetings, and organizes sober activities such as bowling.
For more information, visit: kleantreatmentcenters.com, or call (888) 601-6040.
CRESCENT HEIGHTS HOUSE
Part of the Karuna Recovery Residences, the Crescent Heights House sober living is a luxurious space for recovery, located on 428 N. Crescent Heights. The house was formerly an artist’s West Hollywood refuge. It offers sweeping balconies, rich hardwood floors, and a rolling backyard. It can accommodate up to 10 residents at a time, including a house manager and an assistant house manager. The location is all within walking distance of the best WeHo has to offer from restaurants, grocery and drug stores, recovery meetings, a gym, and public transportation.
For more, visit karunarecovery.com, or call (800) 563-1215.
Located at 725 N Stanley Avenue, the Stanley House sober living home is another luxurious, yet affordable West Hollywood sober living home for men only. Shared and single rooms are available. The house provides transportation to 12-step meetings, flat screen TVs in every room, onsite laundry, heated pool/Jacuzzi, free parking and more. For those who need a little extra help, extra services are provided for an additional cost, such as one-on-one counseling, group therapy sessions, yoga, daily life skills workshop, sober escorts, detox, personal trainers, massage therapy, and more.
Visit stanleysoberliving.com, for more information, or call (323) 839-4889.
The Tweakers Project is sponsored by the City of West Hollywood. It is a volunteer not-for-profit organization that serves as a great resource for providing information and alternatives to the addicted person and their families and loved ones through film, print, and the web. The organization has helped create sober events such as the sober New Year’s Eve party #BOOM and they successfully organized the sober carnival event #SIZZLE at this past CSW Pride festival. The organization has an interactive Facebook page with thousands of members who share their experience, strength and hope via daily posts.
For more visit tweakersproject.org, or join the FB group at facebook.com/groups/thetweakersproject/