John’s Story

“John” has asked us not to use his real name or share his picture, but is allowing us to freely share his story.

John was born and raised in Spokane. His parents both abused drugs and alcohol as well as each other. Home was not a joyful place for John, and so he spent most of his time alone in the woods. School was also a struggle. Because he grew up poor, he was on the free and reduced lunch program through his school. Kids being what they are, they often bullied and teased John for his shortcomings.

At the age of 12 John’s parents divorced, and he moved with his dad to Orange County, CA. John found a new community of friends in California; ones that didn’t know his past and he was able to start over. Unfortunately, John’s dad remained broken, and introduced him to an array of drugs including alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine. It was not unusual for his dad to bring friends home from the bar, and for all of them (including John) to snort lines together.

The financial status of his dad didn’t change, and John continued to go hungry at school. To remedy this John began selling marijuana to his classmates so he could get lunch money. In the end John got caught and expelled from school. From there John’s addiction to drugs, as well as the physical altercations, began to spin out of control and John found himself hooked on heroin.

When John was 20 he got word that his mom was sick. He returned to Spokane, and was with her when she passed away while they were watching Deadliest Catch together. John struggled to find sobriety and steady work. In 2013, he attempted suicide by mainlining heroin into his neck. While he survived he ended up falling ill to a severe brain infection. He spent over five months in the hospital under 24 hour suicide watch learning to use his motor functions again.

Most recently John had a lead position at a window company, and also found sobriety. Unfortunately the company issued mass layoffs when COVID hit, and John fell back into old destructive habits again.

He was able to find housing with an old friend. Street life being what it can be sometimes, John went out one day for coffee, only to come back and find himself locked out, house empty, and all of his belongings gone. John spent the next two days wandering downtown in tears when he walked by one of the shower trailers with Jewels Helping Hands. A JHH staff made contact with him, and brought him back to the warming center.

John is wanting and working to come back off opiates, and will start his suboxone program next week. While at the warming center he has been able to apply for and begin to receive his unemployment. He is actively working towards permanent housing, and is looking for work.

Someday he would like to be married to a wonderful woman, but recognizes he’s still too rough around the edges at this point in his life and wants the woman he marries to receive him at his best.