The Amazing Ride — West’s Story

Darryl West was a man on a roller coaster ride before finding the Healing Place. “I was always resilient and seemed to always find a way to have a roof over my head,” West said. “But due to my drug use I would go through periods where I would lose everything and then have to start from the bottom. It was a vicious cycle. I always seemed to just slide by and looking at it now I feel like the more you get over the more you go under.”

West’s US Air Force Portrait

West stated that after honorably serving in the United States Air Force he moved to the Raleigh area and everything seemed to be going his way until it wasn’t. “I found the Healing Place after I moved to the Raleigh area and found some success. I had held a good job with the State, had an apartment and cars and then lost everything. I found my way one day to the soup kitchen at the Church of the Good Shepherd and I ran into a guy that I used to know from the streets. He somehow looked different. He looked like there was more life in him. So I asked him what changed and he mentioned The Healing Place. The way I looked at it was I had two options, I could either go back to the streets in southeast Raleigh where I was using or I could try out The Healing Place.”

West’s face brightens when he begins to look back on the day he decided to go to The Healing Place. “I’ll never forget that day. It was around 28 degrees outside. I had made the decision that I was going to catch The Healing Place bus at noon but it turned out the bus wouldn’t pick me up until four o’clock. So I waited. I had real thin clothes on and it was freezing but I had made my decision. I knew that if I went back to where I came from I would use again. So when the bus came I got on and my life has moved forward ever since.”

West said that his experience while at the Healing Place opened his eyes. “I was willing to accept suggestions, follow directions and become open. It was unique because it was a non-stop 24 hours being in a recovery atmosphere. It was a little different for me because when I came into the program it was just getting started. So there wasn’t anyone who was ahead of us. We were the first group so there weren’t any examples to look at. Just people telling us that if we stick with the program positive change will happen in our lives. What I really had to look at was the evidence of what had happened before and knowing that I didn’t want to go back to that place. When I started the program I was 42 years old. So I had evidence of 42 years of struggles that told me I couldn’t keep living the way I was before. “West also mentioned how he felt himself changing pretty early on in the program. “It felt different compared to other treatment centers. I felt safe and they didn’t ask you for any money to be in the program you just needed to be willing to follow instructions. Also the food was great. I came to The Healing Place very malnourished and didn’t even realize it. Some people have had struggles with staying but I didn’t. I just kept telling myself this is where I needed to be and just don’t let me leave today. I didn’t necessarily have the goal to graduate the program or silver chip. I just took things a day at a time.”

West with his oldest daughter and grandson.

West described his life after finding recovery as being trans-formative but he’s still learning every day. “I still have work to do on myself and I don’t see myself as a finished product. I love that I can now help others and people seek my advice and experience. I am respected at work where I work as a certified substance abuse counselor. I’ve been working in this field for 11 years and currently work at maximum security women’s prison with a 24 client case load. I have also happily served 6 years on the board of directors at the Healing Place. My life has definitely blossomed, even though with the blossoming there’s been some thorns as the flower grows and blooms. It’s just been an amazing ride and I have to pinch myself sometimes and really realize how fortunate I am.”

West also went back to the man he met that day in the soup kitchen to thank him for placing him on his path to recovery. “After I graduated the program (recovery est. 2001) and received my Silver Chip (Silver Chip #3) I found him and gave my Silver Chip to him. He was the angel that led me to the Healing Place and I am so grateful for this journey.”