Juan and Veronica were both introduced to drugs at a very early age. Juan started using marijuana when he was 10, progressed to pain-killers by the time he was 14 and started to sell at 16. Veronica lost her mom to suicide at 15, a tragedy that caused her to self-medicate with methamphetamine at age 16. But it wasn’t until they met at a friend’s house and started dating that their lives took a rapid downhill turn.
“We enabled each other’s addictions,” Juan says. “I introduced Veronica to pain-killers and Veronica introduced me to meth. Once you become dependent on either you have to use it every day or you feel awful… you don’t want to move, you’re weak and your body hurts everywhere... and now we were using both at the same time.”
The pain drove Juan to do things he never imagined he would be capable of to keep them both high. He began to steal from stores, friends – even his own mother.
Juan admits, “At that point we were numb to any kind of remorse, we didn’t really care who we were hurting as long as we could make the pain go away.”
One by one they wore out their welcome with friends and family. Before long, Juan and Veronica found themselves living next to a canal in a tent they constructed out of bed sheets.
Veronica remembers, “It was rock bottom. We would go days without eating. When we did have food, ants and other bugs would usually get to it before we did because we were too busy getting high. We smelled because we were washing in the dirty canal water… it was terrible. We didn’t know what to do, but we knew we didn’t want to stay here. So one night we sat together and prayed to God for help. Juan called his mother the next day and mercifully, she let us move back in.”
Their newfound convictions saw Juan and Veronica find sobriety over the next two weeks... but it didn’t last. Soon after their first son, Juan IV, was born they both went back to using. Something was missing. Something they both found at the Phoenix Rescue Mission.
“We started to get high again and my run-ins with the law were catching up to me. God gave us one last chance through my parole officer. He said I could either get help at the Phoenix Rescue Mission or I could serve prison time… the choice was obvious,” said Juan. “The counselors and staff have opened my eyes. They showed me how to give my troubles over to Jesus Christ, that God had a plan for my life and part of that plan included becoming the man He designed me to be for my family. I always knew there was a God but, for the first time, I had a real relationship and real hope in recovery.”
One month later a pregnant Veronica entered the Changing Lives Center.
Today both are sober and by God’s grace their newest child, Mariposa, was born a healthy 5 lbs, 14 ounces!
Veronica admits, “If you had asked me to choose between sobriety and being with my children, I don’t think that is a choice I could make. Thank God the Phoenix Rescue Mission allowed my children to join me in recovery. We looked at a lot of rehab centers and none have what this place offers — a chance for a whole family to find hope and a real future.”
That’s the real gift we celebrate on Christmas isn’t it? Jesus Christ represents our chance to start over, to begin a journey from death into everlasting life. As Christians, it’s a truth we should never forget. Through your prayers and support, another family has been given a precious gift that not only promises a better future in this world, but also secures one in the next. Thank you helping make this Christmas a special one for the Lopez family and all the families we serve!