8 Years Drug-Free and Counting

U.S. Army member with family
Photo by DenisProduction.com/Shutterstock.com

I was born in Amarillo, Texas, and raised in Canadian, Texas, both in the northern part of the state. I feel that I had a good childhood, with my proudest and happiest moment being winning a championship football game. I was a linebacker and loved playing football.

After high school, I moved away from home and went to college. It was at college that I joined the crowd in drinking and smoking marijuana. I hooked up with the wrong crowd, and later in college, my drug use escalated to hard drugs. My priorities shifted from getting a college education to getting and using drugs. My priority became drinking, smoking weed, and using meth. Once you start on hard drugs, they take control of you. It was at a party where my “friends” got me to try meth, which led me to use meth in college for a year. The trouble with meth is you can’t only use it once because once you try it, you are hooked.

After five years of college, I went back home. For a while, I was able to hide my drug use from my family, but then it came up with them. The friends of my girlfriend at the time (now my wife) told her I was on drugs, but they didn’t know to what extent. They knew I had an addiction, and I was looking at my future. Since there is no telling what would happen if I continued to take drugs, I decided I wanted to get off them and told my family. Like most parents, they wanted to help me, so we looked for a place to go.

I knew I needed help and guidance in getting clean and would not be able to stop drugs on my own, so we looked online for a residential rehabilitation facility that had good success, and we found Narconon Arrowhead. Once I reached the point of wanting control over my life and realized it was all from myself, I was willing to do whatever it took to get clean. I also knew that I had to get away from my “friends,” the ones I was using drugs with. Then I would have no pressure from anyone to continue to use.

Completing the sauna part of the program was a huge accomplishment, as it is not easy and is a big physical and mental game. After completing it, I felt awesome! Drugs were no longer in control of my life and I was able to break away from them.

Since I got clean at Narconon Arrowhead more than 8 years ago, I have achieved a lot. I worked on a ranch before the Narconon program and kept that job afterward for 3 or 4 years. After that, I joined the military. I have been in the Army for the past 4 1/2 years, and I enlisted for another 4 years. I got married, and we have two beautiful, healthy little girls.

“What I like best about being drug-free is the freedom I feel. I have a different grasp on life. I am the one in control, not anchored to a chemical.”

What I like best about being drug-free is the freedom I feel. I have a different grasp on life. I am the one in control, not anchored to a chemical.

The best advice I can give to people with an addiction is to break away from the people influencing you—the ones on drugs and the ones supplying them. It is especially important to stay away from them after you get clean because they will use around you anyway and keep putting it in your face. Instead, surround yourself with people who have different behaviors, people who are not using or dealing.

It isn’t always possible to do it yourself, and it is definitely good to have help from professionals who know what you are going through and who have tools to help, as the Narconon program does. I got a lot out of the program and have been drug-free since.

—Jed R.


Jo-Ann Richardson

Jo-Ann has always loved helping people. After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree and Elementary Teaching credential from California State University, Chico, Jo-Ann worked at non-profits around the United States and the world for more than 35 years. This path led Jo-Ann to Narconon Arrowhead, where she has been the Director of Legal Affairs since 2017.