Jeffery Meadows was born in Charleston, West Virginia, but his family moved to Houston when he was three. They lived in what Jeffery describes as an “aggressive neighborhood” where theft and violence was the norm. His mother, a hard-working single mom of three, was a nurse and worked tirelessly to provide the best life she could for her children. Despite the fear and aggression that he experienced during his childhood, his mom always told him, “There’s a pony in every pile of sh*t,” reminding him to look for the silver lining in every situation.
Jeffery recalls having a lot of unstructured time to do what he wanted when he wanted. He skipped school quite often and ended up attending an alternative learning center in Houston by the time he was eleven. His adolescent years were filled with behavioral issues and substance abuse as he desperately tried to gain acceptance among his peers.
“I was the kid that wanted to be accepted in every group, whether it was the skaters, the jocks … I was looking for acceptance in every area of my life. I latched onto materialistic things to change the way I felt, but I didn’t realize that until I got sober,” he says.
Jeffrey’s family relocated to Austin, Texas in 1999, where his drug and alcohol abuse continued to worsen and eventually, consumed him. Once an avid and talented skater, Jeffery now sat on the sidelines drinking while his friends skated, and one by one, he slowly lost everything he loved.
“Nothing mattered except drugs, friends, and women. School didn’t matter. My relationships with my mom, brother, and sister didn’t matter. It was just drugs, alcohol, and acceptance. Every day, every hour I wanted to hang out with a friend or do drugs,” he says.
The Darkest, Loneliest Hour
After attending a long list of alternative learning institutions, Jeffrey gave up on school and dropped out in his second year of 9th grade. His substance abuse continued to wreak havoc in his life, leading to severe depression and two suicide attempts.
Eventually, he ended up in a 4-by-8 penitentiary cell, where he found himself completely and utterly alone. He had received a three-year sentence for his third DWI and had burned all his bridges. His mother was the only one who would come to visit him.
“My life had revolved around four things: drinking, trying to drink, recuperating from drinking, and trying not to drink,” Jeffery says.
Even then, in his darkest moment, Jeffrey’s mom reminded him to look for that pony and search for the positive aspects of his negative situation. He buckled down and made the most of his time in prison by studying vitamins, minerals, metabolism, and fitness. His hard work paid off and he earned his GED, the salutatorian of his class. In addition to studying nutrition and fitness, he also applied those concepts to his life and lost 54 pounds before he was released from prison.
Sincere, Internal Pain and Heartache
Jeffrey was released from prison in March of 2017 and managed to stay sober for two months, purely out of fear of going back to the penitentiary. Unfortunately, even the fear of prison couldn’t keep Jeffery away from alcohol for long. He ended up drunk behind the wheel of his mom’s car, which he took without permission while on parole.
The internal pain he was experiencing was simply too much to bear anymore and he knew he desperately needed help. Unlike many others who attend rehab to appease loved ones or to avoid criminal charges, Jeffery’s decision to enroll in treatment was simply a result of sincere, internal pain and heartache.
“I started off doing [drugs] to fit in. But I had an addictive mentality even before that,” he says. “I collected things and latched onto toxic people. I was in love with the idea of being in love,” he says. “I’ve been fighting a mental war for as long as I can remember, not dealing with the internal stuff.”
Nova Recovery Center was Jeffery’s first and only experience with rehab. He started treatment with a positive outlook (still searching for that pony) and came to Nova knowing he was beyond human aid.
As it says in the Big Book, Jeffery quickly discovered he had two options: to die an alcoholic death or to live by spiritual principles. That truth hit home for him and he realized he was going to die if he didn’t figure out a way to find some freedom from his addiction.
“There wasn’t anything material that was going to keep me sober,” he says. “I was just like, ‘tell me what to do.’ I took direction, did everything that was asked of me, and something started to happen. I entered into this fourth dimension that AA talks about. I didn’t realize it until I started to reap the benefits that this book offers.”
For 20 years, Jeffery lived in fear, driven by the delusion that he could control his drinking while suffocating under the weight of his internal pain. If he hadn’t gotten help, he says he believes he would either be back in prison or dead. However, today, his life looks very different.
Today, Jeffery spends his days working with recovering addicts, as a Behavioral Healthcare Technician at an addiction treatment center in Austin. He enjoys any fitness-related activity and is in the process of opening his own boxing gym with a friend. He still works hard to maintain his sobriety daily by applying the 12-step principles he learned in rehab.
“My life today is an absolute miracle and blessing,” Jeffery says. “God has given me the opportunity to work in [addiction] treatment with people who are broken and see the life come back into them, give direction and advice, and go to treatment centers to share my story and be on the frontline of this community for people who are addicted.”
Despite the severe internal pain and conflict he faced early in life, Jeffrey admits if it wasn’t for that pain, he wouldn’t be where he is today.
“Because I’m an alcoholic and an addict, I get a very rare chance to live by spiritual principles that a lot of people do not become awake to, due to the simple fact that they don’t experience enough pain in life,” he says. “Pain saved my life. It took 20 years, but I finally had enough pain to say, ‘I’m done.’”
If you are struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, please call Nova Recovery Center today to speak with an admissions representative. Just like there was hope for Jeffery, there is hope for you too, and we are waiting to help.