My name is Ricky. I started using drugs and alcohol when I was 15 years old. My first IV drug use was at 17. I am now 56 years old and just celebrated 9 years clean and sober. I was married 20 years to a girl named Debbie and she died in 2001 of indirect health issues due to years of alcohol and drug abuse. When she died I became hopeless. I was bad before but that left me so lonely and lost I became suicidal. I could find no relief any more from drugs unless I was passed out, blacked out or my ears were ringing from crack or cocaine. I was living in a Hell on Earth, homeless and helpless. After 9 detoxes and 4 visits to treatment center I began believe life might be worth living. The recovering community raised me up, added years to my life and life to my years. I am now more alive than I have been since I was a 5 year old child. In may of 2013 I graduated from college with a BS degree in healthcare management (with honors), and was selected to be the student speaker at my graduation. My graduation speech is titled “The Spirit of Unity” for without it, I would have never of made it of out the seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. Thank you to the countless people who helped me along the way, and now, to keep what I have, I reach out to others who are where I used to be. We all are worth whatever it takes.