“This is the first time in my life that I actually enjoy going to work…
An Interview with Jeremy Stalbird, Residential Manager at Promises Young Adult Program
Jeremy Stalbird was on a troubled path for the early part of his life, but it led him “right where I’m supposed to be,” he said, helping those with drug and alcohol addictions as Residential Manager of Promises Young Adult Program.
Coming up on his sixth year of sobriety, Jeremy uses his hard-earned knowledge to connect with those seeking their own road to recovery. “I hope they find inspiration from me,” he said. “Probably 90 percent of the technicians who work here, we’ve all been through it. So we have a lot of compassion and empathy for our clients.”
Jeremy’s introduction to alcohol and drugs started early. “The first time I remember getting drunk was on New Year’s Eve when I was in sixth grade,” he said. “My aunt bought my sister, my best friend and me a 12-pack of beer. Soon after that I smoked pot for the first time and didn’t look back for many, many years.”
When hospitalized for health problems at 21, he lost his job and girlfriend and turned to cocaine to lift his depression. Soon he was a daily user. “I remember telling my father I was addicted to it,” he said. “He told me I’d wind up in prison if I kept using. ‘Oh, no,’ I said. ‘I’m just a user, not a dealer.’ Of course, soon after that I picked up my first felony for delivery of a controlled substance.”
What followed was a vicious cycle of arrests, probation, court-ordered treatment and relapses. Meanwhile, his disease progressed to IV use, and his drug of choice went from cocaine to heroin to meth, then back to cocaine and heroin. “While I was in treatment, I gained invaluable knowledge even though I had no intention of staying clean at the time,” he said. “I was just running from my probation officer.”
At last, after two car crashes in one day, Jeremy’s eyes were opened. “I could actually see I was hurting others. I didn’t care about myself, but I always cared about other people. In my addiction I never realized the hurt and pain that I caused my friends and family.” After being arrested for driving under the influence later the same week, “I finally said, ‘Enough,’ and I haven’t used since.”
Jeremy began to attend meetings he was once ordered to attend and to actually put into practice the skills he had learned through earlier drug rehabilitation experiences. What followed has exceeded his hopes. “My life has become better each and every day. Things I never thought were possible have happened, like having a wonderful and meaningful relationship with my family. They are proud of me and want to see me as much as possible.”
He knew his future lay in sharing what he had learned. After moving to Los Angeles almost four years ago, he was hired by Promises and moved up steadily within the organization to his current position with the Promises Young Adult Program.
As Residential Manager, Jeremy oversees the 20 or so technicians who help provide treatment for young people ages 18 to 30 who are struggling with drug addictions of their own. Both residential and outpatient care is offered, and the staff works hard to provide a welcoming atmosphere along with much needed structure and stability.
“We have a great reputation, and we live up to that reputation,” Jeremy said. “The level of individualized care and the people who work here – both the tech department and the clinical staff – are just amazing, and I think the clients feel that.”
And on a personal level, “I am so grateful to work for such an amazing place where I have been able to cultivate such meaningful relationships.”
Client success stories abound, he said, and seeing those successes maintained is one of the most rewarding parts of his job. ”I am with them in the beginning when they come in so sick and broken. It is such a joy when they come by months later, looking so full of life.”