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"The schooling to become a counselor taught me that the opposite of addiction is connection."

— CJ, Back on My Feet LA, Alum

CJ’s Transformation Through the Power of Compassion, and Connection

Addiction, drugs, and alcohol consumed CJ’s life for two decades. He lived in a never-ending cycle of survival, going in and out of jail, doing whatever it took to satisfy his cravings.Then, salvation arrived in the form of the Salvation Army and Alcoholics Anonymous.

CJ recounted, “I come from a background of addiction, drugs, and alcohol consistently for 20 years. Things were never good. Fighting to survive every day. In and out of jail. Doing whatever I could to get high or drunk. I ended up finding the Salvation Army and Alcoholics Anonymous and Back on My Feet and finding connection, and that’s what helped me get back on track.”

Discovering Hope with Back on My Feet

CJ’s encounter with Back on My Feet took place when the organization visited the Salvation Army ARC in Santa Monica. Intrigued by their mission, he signed up, unaware of the transformative journey that lay ahead.

“In the midst of my disease, I isolated and pushed away everyone that I loved,” CJ explained. “What I learned through the Salvation Army and BoMF was how to live life, and I found people who were serious about being there and about change. By connecting with them and no longer feeling alone, I felt stronger in that.”

For CJ, the key to his transformation was the power of connection and compassion. He continued, “The compassion that [Back on My Feet staff] showed me and my friends while I was there let us know that compassion is possible and that just because we come from some form of hell doesn’t mean we have to stay there, and there are people who are there and who want to help.”

A 180-Degree Transformation

CJ’s journey with Back on My Feet brought about a complete transformation in his life. He reflected, “A full 180, to be honest. I used to be selfish, self-centered, egotistical, prideful. Now I’m kind, compassionate, and non-judgmental to the best of my ability. I’m aware when and bring my judgments to my own attention and nip it in the bud with self-awareness.”

He embraced a new way of living and shared, “I do my best not to do things for selfish reasons. I’m responsible. I show up every day to work. I work 50-hour weeks most of the time. I stay and help whenever possible. Pretty much the complete opposite of how I used to function.”

CJ now lives by the golden rule – treat others how you want to be treated, with kindness, love, and compassion.

Paying it Forward

CJ is proud to have become a registered counselor, working toward becoming a certified alcohol and drug counselor in California. His journey as a counselor began in the recovery center, where he found joy in helping others. CJ sponsors numerous individuals, providing support and guidance on their recovery journeys.

His ultimate goal is to provide comprehensive treatment and sober living under one roof. CJ aspires to own a center that can offer support to those seeking a path to recovery.

Wisdom Gained

CJ’s advice to new members is simple yet powerful: be open to taking direction and trust the support available. He emphasized that Back on My Feet is genuinely there to help and guide individuals toward recovery and personal growth. CJ urges new members, “Don’t let pride, ego, or fear make you miss out on things. Think of it as ‘The slate is blank and now I can fill it up.’ ”

CJ’s journey is a testament to the transformation that can occur when compassion, connection, and support converge. Back on My Feet continues to inspire individuals like CJ to reclaim their lives, find purpose, and give back to others on their journey to recovery.

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