December 17, 2004

A Christmas Gift to Treasure

Christmas 2003 was when Rene Flores finally realized that his life was out of control. He was in the depths of his drug and alcohol addiction and was recently out of jail. His health was shot, his fiance had left him, and he admits, “I broke my parents’ hearts.”

Cut to Christmas 2004. Against all odds, a healthy, sober and spiritually restored 23 year-old will be reunited with his family. Newly graduated from The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center, Rene will be starting a new job, and is looking forward to having another chance to be a good father to his baby son. After all, this is the seaon of miracles.

And it’s indeed a miracle he’s even alive today to talk about his downward spiral and the long and rocky road to recovery.

The handwriting was on the wall early on for Rene. By the time he was 14, the rebellious teenager was headed for trouble. Using and selling drugs led to brushes with the law, near-death accidents and mayhem. One of those accidents landed him in the hospital. Surgery and 243 stitches in his arm resulted from punching through a 40 gallon aquarium. “I did a lot of stupid things,” he said. “At one point my weight was down to 90 pounds and several of my friends died of drug overdoses.”

Being on the varsity baseball team was a highlight of his teen years. Landing in jail on drug charges was definitely a low point. Rene admits to be kicked out of 4 different schools, to the despair of his devastated parents. The downward slide continued. Things only got worse. He tried outpatient rehab programs, but “nothing worked until my last jail sentence led me to the ARC.” He was court-ordered into the recovery program and confesses he inwardly felt like he was “being dragged, kicking and screaming.”

“But I found good people there. It’s been a life-changing experience, thank God!” The rigorous, disciplined long-term rehab program entails countless 12-step meetings, counseling, a demanding work-therapy schedule, anger management and Christian living classes and a perhaps, most importantly, spiritual guidance. From the depths of despair came the miracle of recovery. “Rene has worked hard and long on his recovery process,” Major Doug Williams, administrator of The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center.

A life restored, a family reunited, a child with a brighter future—what a gift for this Christmas.

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