Between struggling with a 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 our 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 his parents packed all their belongings into an old rusted 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.
Holidays were huge as he grew up with 20 cousins, 5 aunts, and 2 uncles. There was always a huge family dinner with the whole family every Sunday and his grandfather would smoke whole ducks. His childhood was full of family, friends, and good times. “Laissez les bons temps rouler!”
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 the floor on his shoulder 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. His father stayed behind to watch the house and while the rest of the family went to Alabama.
“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 surf board 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 pain killers he could be whoever he wanted to be; the drugs took away his anxieties and social fears away.
Five months later he was back in NOLA and he started smoking weed and drinking. “I remember 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 Vitamin water bottle half full of vodka. He and a friend would sneak out to the car and smoke pot at lunch time and then he would continue to drink and smoke pot all day 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 LSU. He was arrested twice after graduating and was put on Probation.
He started using coke and synthetic marijuana because they couldn’t test for it 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 license in his friends borrowed car. When his father saw him on the bank surveillance and confronted him, Geronimo said he wanted to kill himself and 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. He was 18 years old and he dropped out of LSU.
After this, Geronimo was 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. After years of this, one night while working as a bartender, someone slipped something in his drink. The next thing he remembered was waking up in the hospital. He had tried to walk home and passed out smashing 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.
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 know 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 look 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.”