Help one: how a Ukrainian returns to life of drug addicts in the USA
Sergey Volyansky created a successful home renovation company. He hires people who, like he once, managed to give up drugs. He helps them undergo rehabilitation and teaches the craft. He told his story Voice of America.
I face this every day. In America, this is a huge problem, it is an epidemic - with 82 thousand deaths a year. I know that I cannot change the situation as a whole, but I try to help and help individual people.
I came from Ukraine in 2001. My parents took my brother and me to America, trying to solve the problem that we were already in at that moment - drugs, alcohol and everything connected with it. At about 10 years old, in the company of older comrades, I got drunk for the first time. After a short time, I tried marijuana. Pills, pills - everything that could affect my brain, I used everything that I could find. At the same time, he ran away from home, because at home this could not be done. I have a very good family. I was born and raised in a Christian family, my father is a priest. But I did not see anything interesting in this, so I went outside where it is interesting. From 13 to 17 - to get drunk, to fight, to be taken to the hospital, to court - all this did not frighten, but gave interest to life. I felt unpunished for several reasons. I realized that any moment in Ukraine at that moment can be solved with money and my parents can solve it.
In these years, they were the hardest for my mother, they brought her a chair on the porch, where she sat at night and waited for me to come, they would bring me, or they would say that something had happened to me, or they would come and say that I killed someone. It was very painful for her, she plucked her nerves. In the 15-16 years, I knew that I would live the maximum until 30. Dad left everything there, and we went to America.
My parents received a visa as refugees on a religious line and transported us to America in the hope that something would change here. Moving to another country, new people, new interests, new friends - perhaps this will affect us and we will change. I was 18 years old and in the USA I got acquainted with heroin and crack.
The routine every day was like this: I got up, injected, went, stole something, sold it, bought drugs, injected, went, stole, sold, bought. And this is every day. So I got into a serious addiction. I've struggled with this all the time, I've stitched 5 times. And my brother fought. But we understood that we would be drug addicts. So that there were no breaks and there was always a minimum supply - we built our life around this. No one could offer a way out. We had tried methadone too, but we knew it was even harder to get off than heroin. I have known only one person in my life who conquered heroin addiction.
Once, my mother read a story in a newspaper about a man who was a drug addict, and next to him was a pastor who took him to his rehabilitation program. He went through the program, moved to America and opened a rehabilitation center. Mom already knew that it was almost impossible, but when she saw the story, she said: either you go to the program, or go away and live your life in another place. I went there and did not leave the next 3 years.
When I got to the center, there were 15 drug addicts who were injecting yesterday, but today they are healthy, they walk around, clean up after me, wash my clothes, bring me tea, feed me, I don't sleep for 2 weeks and they don't sleep with me - so that just help me somehow. It has a very strong effect on you. You understand that you are nobody to them, they are nobody to you, and they rush with you as if they were family. This program was led by Alexander, he lived in this house with his wife and daughter, at that moment their second daughter was born. When you go through withdrawal symptoms, it's terrible depression - but when I went through it there, I didn't have depression. I felt something very good inside, calmness. I love children very much, and this little girl came to me every day and sat in my arms. I cannot convey what I was going through at that moment. Probably only thanks to her I was able to get through these two weeks. Children - you can't deceive them, they strongly feel adults when adults feel bad. Maybe she felt it.
After 3 of the month I began to help new guys go through the first, most difficult days. Six months later, I decided that I would stay and work as a volunteer in this program. I worked in the rehabilitation of 2,5 of the year.
I have been clean for 14 years.
I analyzed, talked with leaders of various programs, asked about the percentage of people who do not return to drugs. This percentage is from 2% to 5%. This is very little, for the huge resources, money and effort spent ... People who have been using for 5 years, they were all on some program and they did not succeed. They no longer believe in these programs. Therefore, it is important for me to convince the person that I can help him. So I know that I will have nothing in this life, and suddenly someone says to me: “Where did you get this? Someone deceived you that this will not happen. You were deceived by society, TV, thoughts, friends, parents - it doesn't matter who. You shouldn't live like this, you weren't born to be a drug addict and die under a fence to suffer. When you were born, you dreamed of something? You never dreamed of becoming a drug addict and alcoholic. ”
When I have a funeral in my city every week among the Russian-speaking population, and I know many personally, everyone is silent - everyone is ashamed to talk about it. The need that exists today does not allow me to calmly sit still and watch how, left and right, young boys and girls of 18-20 years old are dying from overdoses. We must help one. Don't need millions and the whole world. Help at least one. He will help the next one, because he also learned this motto. And the next one. And you took someone else. And people appear around you who should not live, but they are. This is a miracle.
I did it, look at my life. If I succeeded, you will succeed.
Our program is a non-profit organization. We are engaged in helping people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol. The foundation of our program is the Word of God. The program has existed for a year or a year and a half, my brother invented it, I finished it with him. It's called Exodus US.
There are 3 main features on which drug addiction rests in a person: this is irresponsibility, impunity and the fact that everyone owes a person. If these things have not changed in a person in the process of recovery, rehabilitation, he can stop using drugs, but he will remain living the life of a drug addict. The place that was filled with drugs and alcohol cannot remain empty. In order to help a person, so that he can become free, he needs to change his routine and habits. This circle tightens so strongly that in order to break it, you need to put a person in a rehabilitation center - sometimes it takes 2 months, and sometimes up to a year, to stop. Then we can build something new on this - this is what we work with, what I focus on. If he changes that, I can give a 99% guarantee that he will never go back to drugs.
The first stage takes place in Scranton. There are 7 girls and 6 guys. This is a house where guys who have problems live and help each other. They are engaged in moral, psychological, spiritual work - as a rule, this is a pastor. He decides whether the person is ready to go out or not. I prepare a workplace for him, take him to Philadelphia - we have two houses there, but they are already filled, and we may expand.
There are conditions that I discuss with each person before he goes to the second stage. You cannot smoke, use drugs, drink alcohol and have sex before marriage. If he does not cope with one of these things, he is obliged to travel for 4 weeks to the first stage, but for this first stage he already pays $ 500 from his money. It happens - he fell, could not resist, the temptation was too strong, he has two options: agree with me or go to the first stage, or go home.
At the second stage in Philadelphia there are 11 of them today. They also live together, they are obliged to go to work - the starting salary is $ 15 per hour, mainly construction. I'm looking for other options, because not everyone can deal with construction. I give them work, teach them in the process of work skills in 3-4 directions in construction. I have professionals who have been working for many years, I introduce these guys to them - and they take over the skill. We are engaged in different types of work. When he has mastered 3-4 types, he can not depend on anyone, find a job anywhere. But while he is in the program, he must work, study and develop. They can absolutely freely travel, walk, go to gyms, communicate, get acquainted with girls and boys. They are free to move around, but the only thing I control is money. But they pay for themselves - they work, they learn how to handle money. They learn that groceries are much tastier to buy and cook in the store than to go out and eat in a fast food restaurant.
They never did it, they never lived like that. As a rule, they all ate at fast food. Now they are beginning to think, because I give them a certain amount for a week. They make money, take as much as they need to live, and put the rest in a savings account. They can pick them up at any time, but I help them in this way to collect a sufficient amount of money, because basically they do not have documents, certificates, there are problems of a criminal nature that need to be solved - lawyers, courts, fines. They themselves are rebuilding what they have done in the past. And in the future, when they have solved these issues, the money goes to buy a car, for example.
Ideally, what I want to see at the end is a person who, in the process of recovery, adaptation to the social sphere, met a girl or a guy, started a family, at the end they have money for housing, have a profession, work and good earnings, there are friends, society and a chance for a completely new life. This is how we work.
A completely destroyed person comes, you understand that everything in his life is over long ago: he is still alive, still walking, but inside he has a scorched desert. And after some time of my work, his work, the efforts of the group - you look, and in his soul, instead of a desert, flowers grow. He breathes deeply, smiles, enjoys life, strives for something, he has goals. After a while you look - his children were born, he is a dad! When this happens in front of your eyes, you understand that if even a small part of this is yours and without you it could not be, it brings such satisfaction ... I don't even know what to compare with. Even working and earning money does not bring me such satisfaction. When I see such stories, I see these people - I am very happy.
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