My Name is Michael Dickerson and I am a 49 year-old African-American male. I graduated high school in North Carolina. My parents passed away when I was between 12 and 13 years old from terminal cancer. I finished school in North Carolina with my cousins.
I began to smoke cigarettes and marijuana at the age of 10 years old. I also began to explore drinking early. I remember my first time drinking beer with my friends and I got a six pack and got drunk and threw up. In high school I played on the basketball team and before games some of us would drink wine or beer. When I graduated high school I began to lead a life of crime that revolved around fast women and cocaine.
This went on for about 15 years until the crack epidemic hit and I was introduced to it by a female friend. I smoked crack for about 8 years. That’s when at about 30 years old I experienced going to Rikers Island. My usage had escalated into full-blown addiction. It got so bad that I got arrested and was facing a 41/2 to 9 year sentence. That was my spiritual awakening. I went to the grand jury and beat the case, and as it was a non-violent case they sent me to a shock program in upstate New York. This was my first intervention when it came to drug education. The program was for 90 days and I did very well, and when it was completed I was required to go to a residential program. I chose Samaritan Village and again did so well that I was asked to submit a proposal for their staff straining program.
I passed the clinical interviews upstate and was eventually sent to Briarwood, Queens for an interview with the Executive Director of their staff training program. I passed the interview and was accepted into a six-month training program where I did exceptionally well. Upon completion, Samaritan Village employed me at their 43rd Street Veteran’s facility as House Counselor. I did well for close to a year and then I relapsed, because I neglected my own recovery and focused on the clients’ problems too much.
I went back to treatment in the Bronx and did well as a client and was the first client allowed by Samaritan Village to do an internship for another agency, Project Return. I completed the internship and got a job with Project Return. I worked there for a year as a case manager with a case load of 21 clients. But again I began to neglect my own recovery process by coming to work early and staying late, or coming in on days when I didn’t have to. I eventually relapsed again.
An organization that helps homeless people at the Port Authority Bus terminal sent me to the Bowery Residents’ Committee’s detox rest station, the Chemical Dependency Crisis Center. I stayed for 30 days and then began to go to the outpatient program, the Addiction Outpatient Clinic. The outpatient program changed my life. I had to make a choice to deal with life on life’s terms. This program allowed me to grow up and make good choices. Today I am doing an internship at Woodhill Hospital Outpatient, hoping for employment. I am also filling out my application to attend Empire State College, hopefully in September.