Jeff K’s best times with drugs consisted of hiking trips where he and his friends went hunting for psychedelic mushrooms. He remembers it as a fun experience of connecting with friends, something that he didn’t to come down from. But then there’s the flip side. As Jeff progressed into alcoholism and meth addiction, he started to struggle in leading a decent life and cultivating fulfilling relationships. There were times he wanted to kill himself and getting arrested was just a normal part of his miserable existence. He even became homeless for two years. Things started to turn around for Jeff when he sought refuge at the Gault House Sober Living Environment, where he found the support that he needed to get sober. Listen as he shares his story to Paul Noddings to gain inspiration for your own efforts to get clean and stay clean.
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Jeff K Has Good Times Hiking To Pick Mushrooms But Bad Times With Alcohol And Meth
Four Years Of Good Times And Forty Years Of Suffering
In this episode, I’ll be talking to Jeff about his best and his worst times using drugs. We are against the use of drugs and alcohol. We are asking these questions to our guests because we believe our audience wants to know this information. Jeff is a client at the Gault House Sober Living Environment in Santa Cruz, California. Jeff is 64 years old. He has been addicted to meth and alcohol and has used steroids on a regular basis. Welcome to the show, Jeff.
Thank you. It’s a pleasure being here.
Please tell us what your drugs of choice are and how you got started using them?
It’s like any little kid. I had two older brothers. They’re always into smoking weed and playing sports. I’m the youngest of three brothers. I never knew what drugs were until one of his friends came by and asked me if I want to smoke a joint. I didn’t know what a joint was. I knew what a cigarette was. I thought it was some form of cigarette.
What age were you then?
I’m twelve. After that, I remember getting sick, getting dizzy, and act like an idiot. I go, “This sucks. I don’t think I want to do that again.” Lo and behold, the next day, I was seeking out that gang and asking if I had another cigarette to smoke. It carried on from there. I wasn’t going to say that it hasn’t all been bad. I’ve had good times out there, growing up with older brothers and so on.
Tell us about your best times on drugs, surrounding drugs.
Backpacking and hiking. I felt all my connections of friends come to the realization that they all had some connection to drugs. We used to go mushroom hunting up in the hills. We used to start picking mushrooms and start hallucinating, walking around, backpacking, camping and whatnot. It was a lot of fun. I had a blast. It’s one of those things where you don’t want to come down. You don’t want to come back home. You don’t want to do anything. It was a good escape for me at that time because my family life wasn’t all that great.
At what age were you when you were having these good times, backpacking and picking mushrooms?
It was right around 15s or 20s.
What was the progression from there?
A lot of alcohol was introduced. My two older brothers were popular in high school. They used to have parties all the time and my parents were gone. They’d have these big parties. They’re jocks so they played with the football team. They thought I was cute. Let’s get you up drunk and see what happens. It has many times I’ll walk up on my mom’s kitchen floor on my back and nobody seemed to care that I was laying on my back until my mom came home the next morning and saw me laying on the ground going, “What the hell are you doing on the ground?”
She looked around, saw all the alcohol laying around the house and proceeded to lay into my house, “What the hell are you doing? Who gave you the alcohol?” Right away, I gave up my brothers. It went from chaos to more chaos. I had a lot of fun though. After that point, I found alcohol was one of the greatest escapes about my life. It made me feel like I belong because everybody else was drinking. I didn’t realize what was going on. I know if I drank alcohol with people that people would like me and so on. My brothers were protective of me. Whatever happened in the house stayed in the house until I got to a point of reasoning and decided to go out on my own and buy my own alcohol. I had a good time. I started meeting girls and it was cool. I walked around with a backpack full of beer in junior high school and all the girls thought that was cool.
After that point, I went to juvenile hall a lot. I remember going to my principal’s office in junior high school and my dad used to come. They would pull me in the office because I was drunk going to school, drunk during school. The principal goes, “Sit right here. I’m going to call your dad.” I broke down and go, “Don’t call my dad, call my mom.” That was the biggest mistake. My mom laid into me as soon as I want to. What anybody does is put me in the same office with my parents and the principal would walk out. They took the opportunity to lay into me and stuff.
I didn’t think of that much what was going on. I want to drink more beer. I didn’t care at that point. I knew there were a lot of problems in my family, but I was too young to figure it out. I sensed there was something bad going on. That realization I found out my mom and my dad were separating. That left me in a lot of fear. I didn’t have anybody to guide me through life, telling me do’s and don’ts and how important it is to stay in school, get good grades and play sports, which I didn’t play sports because I sucked at it. I drank beer well. I excelled in drinking.Four years of good times and forty years of suffering. Click To Tweet
From high school, this was in your late teens. What was the progression from there to now? You’ve been sober for a few years. Tell me some of the good times after high school.
I met my childhood sweetheart. That was a big thing for me. After I left high school, we both got jobs and we moved in together. In Cupertino, you can afford a house back then. You can’t now, but back then there were plenty of jobs. There were a lot of family members willing to help you out. We ended up renting a house. There’s another whole story to that part that didn’t go well out there. It was good. I found somebody that loved me for who I was. She’s pulled me out of alcoholic stupor after a little bit. She thought what I was doing was dumb, but I didn’t care.
At the moment, I didn’t realize what she was doing. I came to my senses and decided maybe she’s right. Nobody else told me. I would take a beating, but she would more comfort me with love and understanding and the do’s and don’ts. She wanted a lifestyle or a family. She wanted kids. I never thought about having kids. We had the neighbors’ kids over the house all the time. We played with those kids. I go, “That was cool now,” but she wanted her own kids. That went well for a while. I was hiding alcohol at that point. I was going to work every day. I was doing tile setting. I was holding alcohol well, hiding because it wasn’t a problem at that point. I ran with it. I never thought there was a problem until later on in my junior adult life. I got my first DUI and I ended up in jail. It went from hell from that point on.
Tell me about the turning point when the good times were over and there was a realization that things had to change.
Losing my sanity for one point, repeatedly going to jail constantly. I ended up being homeless for two years on the streets here in Santa Cruz. Even at that point, I didn’t think I had as big of a problem. I thought I was in a bad situation. This sucks but you keep drinking and all that bad stuff goes away.
What would you go to jail for?
Stealing, petty theft stuff, fighting, stealing alcohol and well more than anything. I was on the streets, the DUI stuff, fighting with my girlfriend, domestic violence. I’ve never hit a woman. I never hit my girlfriend or anything like that, but we’d have big arguments. The cops always show up and say, “Who started the fight?” We blame each other and it gets to the point where they usually take me because I was drunk.
Talk to me about some of your worst times, your darkest moments, your blackest periods that involve drugs or alcohol.
I wanted to kill myself. There was a point where I was living with my dad because I failed at being a good potential husband in my own life and doing my own thing to where I ended up back with him. At that time, I felt lonely to the point where I wanted to kill myself. I got on my dad’s Valium. I know where he kept his Valiums. He suffered from hypertension because of me. To this day I realized I’d probably drove him to that point. When I started losing everything, I was back in my dad’s house and all my friends were doing well. I looked at my life and go, “You suck, Jeff.”
I didn’t see a way out because I didn’t know anything about recovery. I didn’t know anything about it. I knew about it, but I never pursued it because I always thought it was for weak people. One day I remember taking my dad’s Valiums, drank a gallon of wine and took his .357 Magnum. I was going to go out in the backyard and blow my brains out. I passed out with a gun on my chest. My dad found me in the backyard and that was it. I was on the streets and didn’t come back to the house. I couldn’t find a healthy way out.
At what age were you when that happened?
In my twenties. At an early age, I experienced dark thoughts of nothing’s ever going to get any better. No one’s going to love me anymore. To me, it was one of the lower points in my life. There were many after that. I thought that was it, but there was more.
It seems that you had only a few good years using drugs and alcohol and then a long number of bad years.
I did. It was more bad than good. That’s how I remember. A lot of it was a lot of blackout drinking. I couldn’t even remember half the good times I’ve had other than meeting Emma and starting to live with her. After that, it spiraled.
You could almost say it’s four years of good times and 40 years of bad times.
Yeah. I bet to this day, Paul, I’m grateful to be in this part where I’m at in my life. I never expected anything to come out the way it has now. It’s amazing because what I did, I moved out to Cupertino, came back to Santa Cruz here and I straightened out. I went to the shelter. I started going to a lot of meetings. At some point, things started to click. I wouldn’t say stayed sober all that time, but I was on the road to recovery at that point even though I slipped a few times, whatnot.
You’re physically strong and a well-built guy. You were going to the gym quite a bit when you first came to Gault House. Have you always gone to the gym?
Not consistently. I’ve always wanted to go to the gym. I always wanted to be that bad-ass in a gym. I never could because I was too drunk or too loaded to even get through the door. I didn’t have enough money even put down for a one-month membership. That was that. I’ll tell you a little story about how I ended up at the gym. The original owner found me stumbling down the street. For some reason, he pulled over and asked me if I’m hungry. Honest to God, it’s true. I got in his van. I didn’t know who he was. He could have been a serial killer as far as I’m concerned. He goes, “Come on. I own the gym. I want you to clean up.”
I was like, “Whatever. I had nothing better to do in those days.” We go over there. He hands me his chicken. He slides it over to me and he goes, “I want you to eat that. I’ll be right back.” He came back an hour later. The chicken was devoured. It was gone. It was this whole chicken from Safeway. I ate it. That was the first time I ever ate anything in my life. He asked me if I wanted a job, I go, “I can’t work in this condition.” He goes, “Go clean up for a week, come back and I’ll give you a job.” I’ve been there for several years now.
No, that’s Al. Chris came into the picture a few years ago.
Talk to me a little more about your recovery lifestyle. What happened? How did that progress? It sounds like it started with the chicken at the gym.
I started with a whole chicken and something in the back of my mind, I had the sense that things are going to be okay. I had no clue what was ahead of me, what work had to be done. I felt like, “This has never happened to me. Why is this happening to me?” I had that moment of clarity where you sense that what’s happening at that point was good, but you couldn’t explain what it was. It was something that like, “It’s kind of cool?” A week later, I come back. I was all scabbed up. He goes, “Are you ready to work?” I go, “What am I going to do?” He goes, “We’re going to start your cleaning in the gym.” I was weak still so I give it a whirl.
All of a sudden, I kept going back. I stayed at the shelter at the time so every day I checked out and I had a place to go, which is cool. I go back to the shelter, shower, eat, sleep, and show up every day because I knew this thing was good, but I didn’t have any clue what was going to get to a point. I’m training, helping other people to work out. I was like, “Things worked out well.” It’s not easy. I’m not going to lie. Every day is a struggle especially what’s going on these days.
How about staying clean? Has that been easy?Don't give up. No matter how many times you fall, you have got to keep moving forward. Click To Tweet
Not at first, far from easy. I can tell you ever since I’ve been here, it’s been a lot easier for me. I owe it a lot to this Gault House.
Why has it been easy? What is it about Gault House that’s made it easier?
There’s a lot of love here in this house. There’s a lot of caring and people understand. There’s the management crew that’s on the property here and they’re very supportive. I felt like I belong here. I feel a part of something here. I don’t know what, but I felt part of it. That made me feel good. I’m riding the wave, surfing style.
What advice would you give to people who are in addiction now and looking for a way out?
Don’t give up. How many times you fall on your ass, just get back up and move on forward. That’s all you can do. You got to keep moving forward and find people that are positive in your life. Get away from the people that are negative, that doesn’t support you in a healthy way. I even with the church for a while. I don’t preach church to anybody. It’s something I did on the side that helped me a lot as well. Finding good people and having people have their trust and faith in you is big.
Now that you’ve got a couple of years clean, what do you think works to help you stay clean? What works in recovery?
Hope more than anything. Getting up, taking a shower, put clean clothes on is a big thing for me. It’s been a while since I had clean clothes and a place to wash my clothes. Those little things tie into my recovery. It’s those little things that I do throughout the day. It’s not the big major stuff. The major hurdles I accomplished. It’s the little stuff like somebody comes up in an attitude. Since this COVID has been going on, people have been on edge. I worked at a grocery store for a minute and dealing with customer service. People are not happy. You don’t know where they’re coming from. It taught me to feel for them, try to understand where they’re coming from and not judge. A big thing for me is not to be judgmental because I’m not in any shape or form to judge anybody. A big part of staying plugged in is put one foot in front of the other.
I’d like to give you a chance to say any last words to our readers.
Don’t give up. I keep plugging away. I don’t care how old you are. I don’t care what situation you’re in. There’s always hope. There are always people around. Seek out people that will be beneficial for your life. Find out the people who will go the extra mile with you. They’ll take time with it. If you can’t read, find somebody who can read a book to you. Any little thing to get through the days makes a big difference. Having hope is a big deal. You never know what’s coming tomorrow.
Jeff, thanks for joining us on the show. To our readers, we wish that you stay sober and be happy.
About Jeff K
Jeff is 64 years old.
Jeff grew up in Cupertino, California with 2 older brothers
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