How I Finally Found Lasting Sobriety
Between struggling with drug addiction, recovering from a brain injury, and surviving one of America’s largest natural disasters, Geronimo’s story reads like something out of a movie.
He was born in San Francisco, the son of a massage therapist and a doctor. He would go to the massage parlor every day after school and pretend to be the receptionist.
He was exposed to all different kinds of ethnic music while hanging out there. When his mom got off work, they would go to the Golden Gate Bridge Park and eat sweet, pink popcorn.
When Geronimo turned six, he had a little brother on the way. His mother wanted to be closer to her family, so the family packed their belongings into a rusty old Mercury Cougar and hit the road—headed for New Orleans.
They moved into uptown of the Big Easy. There was a festival almost every weekend with live music, food, and drinking. He grew up with the sounds of funk and classic rock and the smells of fresh, boiled crawfish.
With 20 cousins, 5 aunts, and 2 uncles, there was always a huge family dinner every Sunday and his grandfather would smoke whole ducks. His childhood was full of family, friends, and good times.
In Geronimo’s first week in high school, he was running the mile in gym class and a bully ran up and shoved him. He hit his shoulder on the floor and snapped his collar bone in half. He was rushed to the children’s hospital where his father worked. The only thing doctors could do for him was a sling and prescription pain medication.
Things only got worse the next day when Hurricane Katrina hit. In a medicated haze, Geronimo evacuated with his mom and brother to Alabama while his father stayed behind to watch the house.
Geronimo said, “I remember watching everything on the news, all screwed up on painkillers and thinking my father had died.”
He found out three days later his father had escaped the wreckage like an action hero, putting their dog in a laundry basket, jumping on a surfboard and paddling out of the flooded city.
It wasn’t long before Geronimo was in school in Alabama. He was like a celebrity; everyone wanted to know how he survived Katrina. He found that on the painkillers he could be whoever he wanted to be; the drugs took away his anxieties and social fears.
Five months later he was back in New Orleans where he started smoking weed and drinking.
“I remember,” says Geronimo, “at this point fully associating drugs with being who I wanted to be.”
He began selling weed to his friends and would start every day at school with a water bottle half full of vodka. He and a friend would sneak out and smoke pot at lunchtime and then he would continue to drink and smoke pot after school.
He did this every day for the rest of high school and still managed to graduate with a 3.5 and a full scholarship to Louisiana State University (LSU).
He started using coke and synthetic marijuana and would drive every night from LSU to New Orleans. Sneaking in through his parent’s back door, he would steal his father’s debit card to get money for drugs and then drive back—all without a driver’s license.
When his father confronted him, Geronimo said he wanted to kill himself and so was sent to the psych ward. He remembers trying to jump out of the car several times on the highway while his mom was driving him there. He was there for two weeks and then went to rehab—18 years old at this point and an LSU dropout.
Geronimo was then in and out of prison and rehab for years, struggling to stay sober and then relapsing and winding up either back in legal trouble, rehab, or both.
Then one night while working as a bartender, someone slipped something into his drink. The next thing he remembered was waking up in the hospital. He had tried to walk home but had passed out and smashed his head on a sewer grate.
“I died technically that night and was severely mentally handicapped from the head injury. I forgot my name and had to be constantly watched because I would get lost easily and had to relearn even simple tasks.”
When he finally fully recovered, he went right back to drugs. His father caught him using and he was kicked out of his house. It wasn’t long before he was back in legal trouble. His dad told him he needed to go to rehab. Geronimo told him that he needed a different type of rehab and not one that told him he had a ’disease.’
“I got to Narconon beaten, battered, and bruised mentally and physically. I have come out the other side a new man.”
”Fast forward to today: Geronimo has now been sober for 6 months, thanks to the Narconon Program. The changes he has made are best expressed in his own words:
“Before Narconon, my life was an absolute mess. Living day to day, hour to hour, I was less than human and everything I touched turned to ash. I knew that I needed help but had too much false pride to ask for it. Finally, after much turmoil, my father saved my life by finding this program and spending his hard-earned money on me one last time in an effort to get me help.
“If it wasn’t for him, I would have been a goner; and if it wasn’t for Narconon, I wouldn’t know the feeling of having a second chance at life. I got to Narconon beaten, battered, and bruised mentally and physically. I have come out the other side a new man.
“I am no longer the boy who pretends that everything is fine and is apathetic to the point of total self-destruction, but the man who can stand tall and look his problems and the world in the eye. The program here at Narconon renewed my drive and thirst for success and pulled me out of my self-made ruins.”