From Lost and Hopeless to Achieving my Dreams: My Drug-Free Story

Justin P., Narconon Suncoast Graduate and Staff
Justin P., Narconon Suncoast Graduate and Staff Member

I have had a lot of successes in my life since making the decision to turn things around with the help of Narconon Suncoast. It has been nearly three years since I took those first steps. Each day, month, and year have come with new and exciting experiences that would have once felt impossible. I have repaired the damaged relationships I had with my family, turning tragedy and disappointment into some of the most wonderful, healthy relationships imaginable—relationships full of love, support, and laughter. While I don’t get to see my family as often as I would like, we have an ongoing text thread that is filled with joy and love for one another. If you knew the strain my addiction once caused my family, you would know this for the miracle that it is.

One of the greatest joys I’ve had in my professional career is making the decision to apply my skills and talents to helping others find the same hope that Narconon gave me. Watching the transformations happen before my eyes inspires awe each and every day. I love working in an environment geared towards helping others. I was thanking a friend and co-worker the other day for his inspiration in my fitness journey (more on that in a minute), and he let me know how much it has in turn inspired him. We talked about how inspiration creates positivity and witnessing successful graduates go out and succeed and prosper in their new drug-free lives inspires us to come to work and continue to be the best versions of ourselves to help those in need. The very people that turn to us in their most desperate time of need end up being the ones that inspire us the most. What a beautiful thing to be a part of.

“... The very people that turn to us in their most desperate time of need end up being the ones that inspire us the most. What a beautiful thing to be a part of.”

Through hard work and a commitment to living in a responsible manner, skills I learned when I first started my journey during my program, I was able to purchase a home in January and feel a true sense of accomplishment for my hard work and dedication to a drug-free life. This began what I perceive to be the best year of my adult life thus far, 2021. I have accomplished personal goals this year that would have not been possible but for the foundation that I have built in the years since my program.

In January I was happy in many areas of my life, the relationships with my friends and family, my profession. There was one thing in my life, however, that I knew I needed to work on. My health. I did not feel healthy. I had let myself go, so to speak, living on a diet of fast food and at a weight that had ballooned to my heaviest ever. I knew the challenges that laid ahead of me, exercise and diet had been a struggle to maintain. I also knew that I had already met and overcome the hardest challenge of my life, addiction. After purchasing my home, I knew the time had come and the excuses I had made during the last couple of years were over. I knew what to do, and I knew I could do it, so I got to work. I carved out time every single day for the gym. I began on a gradient that started with 15 minutes of light cardio and lifting weights. I eliminated fast food from my diet and went to the gym, without fail, every day.

As my conditioning improved, I set aside more and more time for my exercise. I bought a smartwatch to start monitoring my progress. I began challenging myself and pushing myself to new limits. I really cleaned up my diet, buying more and more organic ingredients and focusing on fueling my body with healthy nutrients. I started making smoothies that included all kinds of healthy fruits, vegetables, and nuts. I have lost more than 60 pounds since I started this journey in January, but far more important than that I feel like a younger man, full of energy and zest. I’m healthier and happier than I have ever been, routinely exercising more than two hours a day. I run five to seven miles a day by the water, enjoying nature in all its glory. I don’t exercise anymore because I must, I do it because I love it and it makes me feel good.

I wanted to share this story because I know what it is like to feel lost and hopeless in this world. As I reflect on how my life has evolved as a clean and sober man, I am taken back to the day before I arrived at Narconon Suncoast. I was alone in my house, stuck in my head, full of regret and pain, wondering how my life had spiraled to such despair. Why me? I learned during my program that my past did not need to define me, that it was part of my story but not who I ever wanted to be again.

Instead, I made the decision to carve out a different future for myself. I have learned the value of hard work and dedication to living in a way that gives me self-respect. I have learned that no goals are impossible to achieve with the right attitude and mindset. I have learned that when I put my mind to something and do things the right way, desired results are right around the corner. Most importantly, I have learned that happiness is not an illusion. It comes from living in a way that brings me joy.

Justin P., Narconon Suncoast Graduate and Staff



Justin has been working in the field of addiction and recovery for over 1 year. Justin earned his Bachelors's Degree in Finance from Florida State University. Having been an addict himself, he brings real-world experience to the table when helping addicts and their families, while also offering a first-person perspective to the current drug crisis. Justin is passionate about educating the public about what’s currently going on in our society, and thankfully, offers practical solutions.