The Path to Addiction and Incarceration
Mark grew up as the youngest of five boys in South Phoenix, surrounded by older brothers and an environment that led him to feel isolated and like he needed to hide things.
These early experiences fueled a curiosity that led him to experiment with drugs at an early age; smoking cigarettes and marijuana when he was just nine years old.
Despite a desire to belong, Mark’s life took a different path as he turned to drugs, searching for an escape from the fear of rejection.
“I always had this anxiety, even at a young age, about where I could fit in,” said Mark.
As his drug use grew, so did a pattern of making choices that led to multiple felonies and three prison sentences. His involvement in theft and other crimes forced him to face the harsh realities of prison life.
The Turning Point and the Road to Recovery
Mark’s journey to recovery was far from straightforward. It was marked by relapses, struggles and moments of despair. However, in 2005, Mark hit a turning point.
He was arrested for possession of drugs but offered the opportunity to seek treatment instead of prison time. This milestone inspired Mark to seek help and turn his life around. “I completed probation through a treatment program at the Salvation Army and, despite the challenges, stayed clean even after my mom passed,” he said.
Recovery and Personal Growth
Mark’s commitment to his recovery is now a constant in his life. He is engaged with a 12-step program and even uses his personal recovery journey to support others in his peer support role at CODAC.
He acknowledges that he is powerless over addiction and believing in a higher power is important to his recovery.
Contributing to the Community
Mark’s role as a Peer Support Specialist is rooted in his own experiences. “Everyone’s journey is unique, and I meet people where they are,” said Mark. In his approach, he leads with empathy, respect, and kindness.
Words of Encouragement
To those in the early stages of recovery, Mark’s advice is simple: “If you don’t pick a time to do it, you may not have a time.”
He encourages individuals to find their motivation and remember that sobriety opens a world of possibilities. Mark carries a phrase with him that was shared with him when he was released from prison:
“If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. Today, I stand for my recovery.”