I can honestly say that without The Florida House Experience Staff I would not be living the life I am right now

“There are 8 million stories in New York City… Recovery in New York is common and anyone can RECOVER!

And one that many of us share.

When I was asked by The Florida House to write about my experience before and after my time there, I had no choice but to accept. On the eve of my one year anniversary, I can honestly say that without The Florida House Experience Staff I would not be living the life I am right now. When I say “staff” I mean everyone! From the therapists to the techs to the people that work at Jojo’s

( the cafe ). Each person has touched me and helped guide me down the path of sobriety.

I am the oldest of three  children. One brother and one sister. My Father was in the Navy so we never stayed in one place for very long.

Growing up I was always the new kid and learned at a very young age how to conform to whatever kind of environment we lived in. San Diego, Ca got one kind of Tony, Society Hill in Philadelphia got another, East Village, North Shore L.I,  Bed-Stuy Brooklyn, Harlem and so on and so on. My sister and I counted one day and figured out that I had been in 12 different schools from kindergarten through high school. At 9 I was diagnosed as being ” hyper-active” (70′s name for ADHD) they prescribed Ritalin for me. But it slowed me down too much. From that point on I always thought there was something wrong with me that needed to be fixed. I felt different from other people.  Fitting in was  the way for me to make myself feel comfortable.

Being a chameleon was perfect for a young man entering the workforce in New York City.  You could be anyone you wanted to be. Madonna did it, Andy Warhol did it  Why not me?  I would embellish my life stories to fit into whatever job or group of friends that I wanted in my life at the time.

Growing up around alcoholics and addicts, I saw the damage and was  completely turned off to the idea of drinking or using drugs!

But when I began working for Ralph Lauren things started to change. I was 19 and began to hang out with co-workers that were 5-10 years older than me that drank as a part of their social life.

I would decline over and over until that need to fit in took over. I wouldn’t drink beer or hard liquor. But Bartyles and James wine coolers. I remember getting drunk off it and feeling good. But when they gave me a joint, that’s when  it really started for me. Pot was for me!! When I smoked, it was easier for me to experiment with other drugs without fear of what could happen.

I used it for year’s with no real negative consequences. Or so I thought. What I wasn’t seeing was that over the 20+ years of smoking pot my mental, spiritual and emotional growth had stopped. But my tolerance and use of alcohol had progressively gotten worse.

From despising liquor to having two beers and several shots of Tequila and that would be after I’d smoked. There were a couple of times when I turned around and I had drank an entire bottle of tequila myself in one night.

It effected everything! My work, where now it was my job to fly around the country and entertain buyers with an expense account (IE: Party and get them drunk),  my relationship with my wife ( former wife now) and my self esteem. I didn’t care about anything anymore. To the point that I ended up in the Psychiatric Ward over Thanksgiving for attempted suicide.  ( My Father died while i was in there- I was so embarrassed and ashamed)

Life was way out of control. I ended up having to sell off the properties that my wife and I owned to repair “some” of the damage I’d caused from my choices and behavior.

The fact is that I tried shrinks, meds, mantras and nothing would work. I continued to lie, cheat and could not stop doing things that were destructive to myself and the people around me.

I called my Aunt who knew the folks at Florida House, and said ” I need help! I can’t do it anymore!!”  She asked me if I could get down there and if I could get out of work for 30 + days.  30 days turned into 95.

I learned more about myself in those 95 days then I had my entire life! With the help of The Florida House Family, they were able to not only help me understand that I had a disease of the mind that had been ruling my life. But where in my life events had taken place that stopped me from growing emotionally and spiritually!!

They do great work! Because they treat the “Patient” as well as the addiction. When I first got there I would say I wanted to get better so I could get my life back.

I wouldn’t trade my life today for any version of my past life. I have the love and support of my family and I’m expressing myself creatively as an artist here in Florida. It’s funny, I have a tatoo that says FREEDOM.  Now I can look in the mirror and wear it with pride.

Because I am FREE!!

Thanks Florida House!”

-Tony B

Brooklyn, NY / New York City