Peter Maldonado was born and raised in Lufkin, TX, and is one of seven kids. He didn’t start using drugs until he was older—about 14 or 15. For Peter, things started small. At first, he was just using marijuana every once in a while. However, things quickly got out of hand.
Within a few months, Peter was using marijuana daily. And by the end of the year, he had progressed to using ecstasy, Xanax, cocaine, and meth. At the rate he was going, it was only a matter of time until his drug use caught up with him.
When he turned 18, he got into some legal trouble. He was a senior in high school and was caught with cocaine (a controlled substance) in a school zone. Because he was 18 years old, he was charged as an adult and got kicked out of high school.
After that, Peter spent a couple of years at state-funded treatment centers, and in April of 2008, he finally got sober. In 2012, he got together with his friend Mat to start a private treatment center. They called it Nova Recovery Center. (Yes, that’s us!)
Peter stayed sober for 12 years, pouring his life and talents into establishing Nova before moving on to work in business development with other facilities in the addiction treatment industry, including The Arbor, American Addiction Centers, Serenity Light Recovery, and most recently, Discovery Behavioral Health.
Unfortunately, the year 2020 was a difficult one for Peter. Things were stressful at work after COVID hit and he was forced to let his team members go. In April of 2020, Peter relapsed on prescription benzodiazepines and started drinking and using cocaine again.
“It was nothing that the rest of the world wasn’t going through as well,” he says. “But I just wasn’t taking care of myself, my own mental health, or my emotional health. I’m used to being a caregiver, especially in this field, but I got burned out and overwhelmed and inevitably relapsed.”
It was a short, three-week relapse, but Peter says his life got horrible, really fast. Using wasn’t anything like what he remembered as a kid. He was older this time around and the drugs on the street today are different than they used to be. Not to mention, now he had a fiancé, a family that depended on him, a career, and financial responsibilities.
Within those three weeks, he also received news of three other friends who had relapsed around the same time he did. Sadly, they lost their battles with addiction. Overwhelmed and plagued with survivor’s guilt, Peter was miserable getting high by himself.
Several times during those three weeks, he would come to terms with what was happening and throw all the drugs away, determined to give them up and get back on track. But his addiction had a tight grip and he would always go back to using within 24 hours. Not surprisingly, his family knew something was up with him and he wasn’t able to hide it from them for very long.
Peter finally got honest and told his fiancé what was going on. Her response was very caring and supportive, but she set firm boundaries and told him he needed to get help. So he called his old friend Mat and let him know he had messed up. Mat told him he needed to get to treatment right away so Peter headed straight to Briarwood Detox Center and then to Nova Recovery Center for rehab.
Although he had been to rehab before, Peter’s second time around was different. The first time he got sober, he was 21. As a young adult, he wasn’t in a relationship and had very few responsibilities. Now at Nova, not only did he have good quality clinical care for the first time, but he also had the luxury of taking time away from work, plenty of support from his wife, kids, co-workers, and friends, and 12 years of sobriety already under his belt.
Peter spent 30 days in treatment at Nova and was able to get back on his feet. Since then, he has returned to the basics—the things he knows that work for him in recovery. He goes to 12-Step meetings regularly, sees his therapist every week, and spends quiet time each morning connecting to his higher power, praying, and meditating. His healing is gradual and slow, and it’s different than it was before.
“My recovery has evolved,” he says. “Sometimes, I think I get wrapped up in the nostalgia of when I first got sober. It was a lot of fun but everything was new to me. Everything from going to school, to going to work, and having a career…doing everything sober was brand new. I came to this understanding and this peace that it can’t be the way it used to be because I’m at a different point in my life. I can’t aspire to have the same feeling and experience again.”
Since getting sober again, Peter has faced his fair share of challenges. His sister passed away earlier this year and he’s still figuring out how to cope with the loss while he works to find balance in life. Staying active with things like yoga and CrossFit have helped and he recently joined a grief support group to help him cope with the loss of his sister.
“Just ask for help because more people are willing to help than you think,” he says. “I thought that I needed to hide it or that I was going to be judged, especially working in this field and being sober as long as I was. I’ve probably put hundreds of people into treatment so it’s just a humbling experience. Especially going to treatment at the place I used to work.”
If you’re addicted and need help, you can recover with the right treatment and support. Please call (888) 427-4932 or contact us online to speak with an admissions representative at Nova Recovery Center.
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One of our understanding, dedicated advisors will contact you about your options. Begin healing today.
Nova Recovery Center is dedicated to helping you or your loved one get help. Please call or fill out this form for a confidential consultation. One of our understanding, dedicated advisors will contact you about your options. Begin healing today.