To whom it may concern,
I am writing in response to a request that was forwarded to me regarding individuals that may be in an arena of defying the stereotypes of addictions and there hopeless dilemma.
My name is Ed Fernandez and I'm 51 years old. I am currently in my 19th year of recovery (clean date 7/7/1995). I came from a single parent home, where my father was a heroin addict and was in and out of prison. My mother had three small children ad had to find a way to survive. I grew up in NYC and had to figure out a lot about survival at an early age. Drugs became my outlet. I started using drugs at age 11 (alcohol/marijuana) and by the time I was 33 I was smoking crack cocaine on a regular basis. There had been multiple attempts at stopping my use of drugs, but none were successful. I had tried geographical moves, different drugs to help curb the effects of another, I tried relationships and nothing worked. At the end of my using days I was suicidal most of the time and was living a double life.
My mother although she was unavailable emotionally, she did make her attempts at parenting and always directed me to continue with school. I was the only sibling that finished his college degree, even during my active addiction. All of my friends were ending up dead or in jail and I wanted something different for my life. I had moved to Puerto Rico on two different occasions to avoid my addiction. Everywhere I went it showed up. In 1987 I graduated from a small private university in Puerto Rico and decided to move back to New York. Shortly thereafter, in 1989 I found myself living in New Jersey and my addiction was full blown. Even though I was able to hide it, I always felt like there was something missing. I felt alone and this brought on many thoughts of suicide, but I was to scared to follow through with any plan.
In 1995 my drug use had escalated out of control, I was married and had a small child, and my life was truly becoming unmanageable. It was at this time that I believe I had a spiritual awakening and was lead to a 12 Step Program. I was so afraid of using that I did whatever the members of this program told me to do. I was attending meetings daily and I began to avoid people, places and things I used with and at. As I began to recover other avenues became available to me. After approximately 19 years as a salesman, I entered the field of treatment for addiction and psychiatric services. In July 1997, I began working at a program called Princeton House on there adolescent unit.
I realized after a few short years of working at this facility I had hit a ceiling and I decided to return to school. This process took about two years to establish, but I was finally accepted in NYU's School of Social Work in NYC. I graduated in 2002 with a MSW and left the world of inpatient treatment. I began working at a local high school as a School Social Worker and was fortunate enough to be brought on by a private practice group and my role as a therapist began. I worked for the private practice for approximately 7 years and in 2010 made the decision to start my own practice. Breath of Life Counseling Services, LLC started as a small vision of hope. Today, 12 years out of graduate school, I am still employed part-time at the school and I am working full time in my practice. Breath of Life Counseling Services, LLC has grown into two office locations and is currently employing 3 therapist as independent contractors. We are performing individual, family, and couples counseling and are running groups for anger management/domestic violence and DWI violators in two different languages (Spanish/English) and two different counties of the state.
I am proud to say that living the life of a recovering person has awarded me the many gifts that God has always promised me and these were that He would give me the desires of my heart if I stayed on the path of giving and loving others.
Today as the Director of my own agency, I am grateful to be able to tell others that they to can come from the horrors of addiction and find a new way of life...
Ed Fernandez, MSW, LCADC