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  April 11, 2011      
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David McDaniels

My story begins here ... November 4 1996

I am a recovering addict who has experienced an extraordinary transformation from an addicted recidivist criminal to a qualified health professional who works with chemically dependent individuals with extensive criminal justice backgrounds. I've been reborn and introduced to a new way of life. The old me died on November 3, 1996, when NYSDOC became the power greater than me and did for me what I couldn't do for myself. They took me away from the progression of addiction and gave me 42 months to think about where my life was going.

I wanted to be a street king at an early age because everyone wanted to be around the kings of the neighborhood. I didn't want to be who I was — a child left home alone, afraid and not knowing where my mother was. It was there, alone in my bed, that I vowed to never be alone or afraid again. My addiction began early, when I would go into stores to steal cars out of cereal boxes. By age 10, I would take sips of beer from the bottles left by family. At 13, I began smoking marijuana, hanging out with street hustlers, doing small jobs to learn the ropes and be part of it all. By age 17, I was fully street-poisoned, selling drugs and feeling powerful. I was no longer alone or afraid. At age 19, I was introduced to my first love, heroin. The love affair lasted for 17 years. I blamed everyone for my life. I rationalized my drug use. When asked why I used, I'd say, "If they hadn't brought it here, I wouldn't be using it!" I didn't recognize denial or that I was unable to take responsibility for decisions I'd made.

It seemed like overnight, I went from innocent child to felonious adult, accumulating 45 misdemeanor convictions and two state sentences. I realize that by emulating my "role models," I continued to experience pain, misery and suffering and that my street heroes only shared the glamour of the game. They failed to speak of the real essence, which was a life of recidivism and life-threatening situations that came with the lifestyle. I didn't know I had a problem with my ability to deal with feelings. Before my release from Mount McGregor, I learned that I had problems that needed to be addressed. I was persuaded to enter treatment at Samaritan Village for 24 months. It was there that I learned about addiction and was introduced to recovery as I know it today.

Recovery is an inside job. I know that I have to take responsibility for my actions. I cannot place blame on others. I am not a victim. No one is responsible for my actions but me. Negative thoughts equal negative behaviors/results. Today, I practice positive thoughts that produce positive behaviors and outcomes in my life. I am a full participant in my recovery. Today, I am committed to helping others find a new way. I am reborn ...

My name is David. This is my story. What's Your Story?


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