Paying it forward: How one man’s journey to sobriety is helping others


Jay has been sober for two years, and now leads recovery groups at the Lighthouse on Dewey.

At the age of 24, Jay was a new dad and a seasoned drug abuser. He started drinking and smoking pot when he was 11 years old. Soon after, he began using heroin.

“I grew up having everything resolved by some sort of substance,” Jay recalls. “I’d steal, lie, get a 30 second rush, and spend 15 minutes not thinking about anything. Then, I’d do it all over again.”

When his daughter was born, Jay began to reevaluate his addiction, but it wasn’t enough to make him stop. He remembers being in a car accident while he was high, and months later, was caught stealing.

“I was constantly hurting the people around me and I was extremely depressed,” Jay says. “I was at the point in my life where I found happiness when I thought about dying.”

Jay’s mother brought him to the Aurora Behavioral Health Campus in Wauwatosa. In December 2013, that’s where he started an inpatient program and was introduced to the Dewey Center.

“The Dewey Center saved my life. Addiction is too powerful to pull yourself out of alone, and the different programs at the Dewey Center helped me become willing to make the change,” Jay recalls.

Jay later moved to the Alumni House, an onsite transitional living facility for individuals in recovery. About a week into treatment, he visited the Lighthouse on Dewey.

Today, Jay is two-years sober and leads a second Heroin Anonymous (HA) group at the Lighthouse to help heroin addicts on their recovery journey. And at age 27, Jay is a full-time student, owns his own home, is employed, has a new son and is in meetings at the Lighthouse twice a week.

“I’ve mentored a handful of guys, and what’s hard is you can’t get sober for somebody else.
But you can be there to help show there is hope,” Jay shares, and feels the new expansion of  the Dewey Center and Alumni House will have a tremendous impact.

In 2016, Aurora Health Care Foundation launched the $1.5 million Renew, Restore, Rebuild campaign to help strengthen Aurora Behavioral Health Services’ substance abuse and recovery programs at the Wauwatosa campus. The campaign will support the creation of more rooms, specialty programs and a new Serenity Garden. For more information or to make a gift, CLICK HERE.

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One Response to Paying it forward: How one man’s journey to sobriety is helping others

  1. Debbie says:

    The Dewey Center saved my life. I truly believe this. I was sent to intensive outpatient therapy 2 years ago. I was almost 1 year sober, but had started to fall. My therapist (thank God for Amanda) told be this was probably my only chance to stay sober. I grudgingly went, and knew almost immediately Dewey was the place for me. Joe was amazing. But I think it was the other people in my group that taught me how to live sober. Thank God for Dewey.

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