Skip to content
Group 401

Nate’s Story

Nate was barely into his teens when he started hanging out with the wrong kids and experimenting with marijuana and alcohol.

It didn’t take him long to become addicted, which led to him skipping school and eventually dropping out in the ninth grade. He started getting into trouble, stealing to support his habit, and landed in jail several times for drug-related crimes. At the time, he didn’t want to stop smoking pot. He didn’t see it as a problem that was taking him away from his life.

“I know now I was always thinking negatively because that’s the only way I knew how to think,” says Nate, a 24-year-old WNY resident and the first consumer to be placed at Horizon Village through Erie County’s Road To Recovery Program.

The Program is an alternative to incarceration for individuals in need of intensive residential chemical dependency treatment. These individuals are deemed to have a reasonable chance of success and have met various criteria set forth by the program. The goal of the Program is to return the participant to the community as a clean and sober citizen off welfare and paying taxes in the workforce. Nate knows that he faces his full jail sentence if he does not successfully complete the program. And he’s OK with that because he’s determined to change his life around.

“Nate’s only been here a short time,” says Rich Pozak, CASAC and senior counselor at Horizon Village. “But he’s already making great strides. He participates in groups, he’s learned to listen, to communicate and he is working to establish goals for his future.”

Nate came from a broken home and he moved around a lot. He’s been on his own for a long time, yet has managed to get his GED. He has also been in a long-term relationship with his girlfriend, with whom he has an 18-month-old daughter. Both have been an inspiration to Nate and given him more of a reason to change his life around. His girlfriend participates in the family groups at Horizon Village, and has come to understand so much about Nate’s addiction and the factors that brought him to this point in his life.

“At first I didn’t think I had a problem, so I didn’t see the need to enroll in this program,” said Nate. “I’m used to handling my problems myself, keeping everything to myself. My lawyer helped me see the light. Now I realize this is an amazing program, even on my bad days.”

Nate said he’s learned a lot at Horizon Village. His counselors have helped him to explore and understand the difference between right and wrong, helped him understand why it’s important to make the right choices. They’ve taught him to get to know himself, to help him better understand why he used drugs and to care more about himself. They’ve also helped him start on a plan for his future and they’ve taught him patience.

“I’d like to get a job, maybe go back to school,” says Nate, who says he likes cars and construction. “Maybe I’ll open a barber shop someday.”

But for right now, Nate is focused on the next six months and showing everyone – including himself – that he can find the life he’s really wanted all along.

“I wish I’d had this opportunity years ago,” says Nate. “But I’m very glad I am here now.”

Path To Recovery
The Path To Recovery includes true stories of consumers who overcame many obstacles with the help of Horizon Health Services to turn their lives around. Last names have been omitted for privacy.