Finally Free: Richard’s Story

Some people would have looked at Richard a year ago and said there was no chance he’d ever be sober.

Those people would be wrong. That’s because God worked through people like you to give him a whole new life.

Growing up, the one thing he remembers having in common with the kids in his neighborhood was the fact that all their parents were hit by the heroin epidemic of the 1970s.

“As we played outside together at the ages of 7 or 8 years old, heroin had taken control of our parents in the house,” he says.

It wasn’t long before addiction was attacking the children too.

“There I was, this kid who should be learning in school, playing sports and learning to be social. But instead I was at the very start of my failures in life,” says Richard.

“I went from playing in the sandbox and swinging on the swings, to putting a needle in my arm at the age of 13. The disease of addiction hit me at such a young age I didn’t even finish learning how to be a kid, much less a man. Looking back today, I realize heroin took my childhood.”

Not only did heroin take Richard’s childhood, it took his freedom. He was first arrested when he was 14 and would go on to spend the next 21 years of his life in and out of prison.

“The disease of addiction didn’t stop at the prison gates for me,” he says. “After getting released, my addiction ended up being worse than it had ever been.”

It wasn’t until he ended up homeless on the streets of Santa Barbara that he got to a place of total desperation and realized he needed help. He came to the Mission, joined our recovery program, and now has been clean and sober for over a year!

Richard has a relationship with God and plans to go to school so that he can be a drug and alcohol counselor. He and 40 others graduated from our recovery program at the end of 2018. His life couldn’t be more changed, and it’s all thanks to God’s goodness and the support of ministry partners like you.

“When I reflect back on all the years of being caught up in addiction and locked in prison, I remember often thinking how much I wish I could start my life over. Being here the last year has given me that,” Richard says.