Alumni Spotlight – Tony D
Once upon a time a long time ago on Oct 7, 2016 I almost lost my joy. You see I had been drinking and drugging my whole life, and on that night, I went to the green room and met up with an old friend, and we shot some pool and drank and had a great time. About midnight I got really tired and knew I needed to go home. Then on the drive home to Folsom I ran someone off the road, and 1.5 miles from my house I flipped my car three times and hit a tree at 100 miles an hour.
All things right happened to me that night. There was a witness behind me who called the ambulance and Fire department. My car was on fire, and the fire department was only 5 min away, and they arrived quickly and put out the fire. The engine from my car was across the highway from where I ended up.
The next thing I knew I was across town at St. Tammany hospital. I woke up with major whiplash and concussion with a brain bleed and almost bit off my tongue.
After 5 days in the hospital, I was homebound for months on the couch trying to get my speech back to normal. I swore to Jesus of the cross I would never drink and drive again. Well, as time goes by, we forget all the pain that got us in the hospital. I slowly started to drink and drive again. My favorite drinking place was a bar and restaurant just 1.5 miles to the left of my house, where I started it all over again. Because of the pain, the shame, and the guilt, I decided I just could not continue life the way it was going, so I started thinking about getting some help.
I didn’t know where, but I knew I had to find something. Well, you see I had been writing in my journal begging for God to show me where to go. So, one morning about 5 am, I’m in bed after a drunken night feeling like crap, scrolling through google looking for a rehab. I ran across the Name Longbranch, and it was in Abita Springs, right out my back door. I started scrolling through the pages reading and looking at who worked there and I got a GOD WINK. I recognized a former coworker Jenny. We went to beauty school and worked together for years. She was the light that I need to take the leap of faith. I happened to have her name in my phone, so I gave her a ring, and she called me back, and I can remember her saying, “come see us, Tony, we can help you.” So, I didn’t wait long, because I knew if I did, I would change my mind.
So, I went to the San Francisco and Saints game on a Sunday (and what a great game it was!). We won, but of course, I did not win. I woke up with a severe hang over, and I decided at that moment that I would drive across the causeway and go to Longbranch to see if they had a Room. I call my husband and life line, Jim, and told him what I was doing, and he agreed that It was a great idea, and he just wanted me to get the help I needed to be the loving man he met.
I drove to Longbranch and went to the front door, scared but relieved, and knocked on the door, and a handsome black man answered and chatted with me and told me to leave all my bull shit at the door. So, after a long talk another man came walking in, and his name was Bryan, and he gave me my first hug at Longbranch. This was right before Christmas, and all the holidays, and I tried to see if I could come back after the holidays, but Bryan was like, “Tony, you are here now, and we have space available now,” and he said there will always be another Christmas and New Year and Mardi Gras.
I went home and packed my bags and then went to the local store to get toothpaste and toiletries. While I was at the store, the liquor guy come by as I stood in the checkout line. “Hey Mr. Drake, we have the great scotch that you ordered. Would you like to put that on your bill?” I said sure, knowing I was in trouble now. Well, I had to have one More TONY DRAKE PARTY before I arrived at Longbranch. I went home and drank the bottle of scotch, and I arrived at Longbranch inebriated, laughing and very cheerful and ready for my treatment.
I didn’t know what to expect at Longbranch, but what I got here was more love and compassion than one man could ever expect to get. They gave me my life back. I had structure, I had health, faith, music, exercise and Mental health care beyond what a man could ask for. I learned so much about addiction and how it affects us differently than others.
I can remember one session with Patrick when I was talking about being abused as a child. I looked at Patrick, and I yelled, “I was a good little boy!” He looked back at me and said, “yes, Tony, and you still are!” From that moment, something so simple changed the way I felt about Tony. It WAS a game changer for me. Well, I loved quotes and took great pride in finding a quote for our group. I still love to find great quotes for FP.
Well, the Last year for me has been the best year of my life during the worst pandemic in 100 years. We inherited some cash, which allowed me to pay off my mother’s, sister’s and niece’s home mortgages. God gifted me, and I had to gift back. I also found a passion I didn’t know I had. I bought my own condo in the warehouse district, and I have spent the last 6 months renovating and decorating. Well, there is no way in hell I could have ever done any of this without being sober by the grace of God and the AA program.
Thank you, Longbranch, for all you have done for me as I am today sober 1 Year 3 months 20 days. and my Sober birthday is my Father’s Heavenly birthday. 12/13/2019
I will leave you with a words I wrote on my year of sobriety.
Locked in a cage in my mind,
downing in my drunken thoughts
I became a self loathed, sad and broken soul
lost in his mind reaching to GOD
to be freed from self doubt and fear.
Today I recognize the man in the mirror
as he smiles back, free from drowning
thoughts of self destructive behaviors lost in the night.
I am free from the man I use to be
and this my friend is true FREEDOM.
– Tony Drake