BlakeOctober 25, 2016
Blake is a 35 year old, successful, hardworking business owner despite a 15-year downward spiral through the perils of addiction. Today, he has a passion for spreading the message of hope, compassion and perseverance.
After watching his father, a successful sales and marketing executive who made drinking looking look fun, he snuck his first drink at 10 and quickly got hooked.
Blake shares, “Once I drank all my inhibitions were gone. I sought out every opportunity I could to drink.”
By 15, Blake was smoking marijuana, hanging with the wrong crowd and skipping school. His parents made the decision to move to Naples from Illinois to try to give him a fresh start, but it backfired. He had an intense rage over the move, refused to go to school and started selling drugs.
By the young age of 19, Blake was addicted to the lifestyle and abusing cocaine, ecstasy and snorting heroin. He felt like he was on top of the world and having a blast living the “Miami Vice, Hugh Heffner” life.
But Blake was in over his head. He was Baker Acted to the David Lawrence Center Crisis Stabilization Unit after a two-day bender when he was brutally attacked and robbed by another drug dealer. The beating left him with frontal lobe damage – something he attributes to when his addiction and mental illness exponentially got worse.
Over the next 10 years, Blake was in jail more than 12 times for DUI, drug possession, drug trafficking and violation of probation. His relationship with this father was nonexistent and his parents’ marriage was falling apart. He started every day with vodka, was now shooting opioid pain pills and was falling deeper into the drug dealing.
Blake adds, “The needle-use drained me of everything I had in my soul. I had a habit I could no longer afford and I was risking my life every day.”
Blake was offered a chance to change the trajectory of his life when he agreed to enter the Collier County Drug Court program which gave him the choice to seek treatment to avoid a six-year prison sentence. He gratefully accepted, but struggled to get clean on his own.
Blake said, “I had a physical allergy to the drugs accompanied by a mental obsession for it. I would go crazy without it. I wanted to stop, but couldn’t do it on my own and failed several drug tests in the first 90 days.”
When Blake was offered the chance to go to David Lawrence Center’s Crossroads substance abuse program as a condition to stay in Drug Court, he never looked back. After a week in Detox, he spent four weeks in residential rehab and he has been sober ever since.
Blake shares, “Crossroads was the turning point for me. Everyone there was so caring and compassionate and were truly invested in seeing me succeed. They loved me unconditionally until I loved myself.”
Crossroads helped Blake delve into his childhood and unearth suppressed traumatic abuse that he could process in a safe place. But for him, one of the greatest tools Crossroads utilized was introducing the residents to others who had found sobriety - some he used to know from the dangerous circles he ran around with. By hosting onsite and attending offsite 12-step meetings, Crossroads introduced him to a foundation for success he could build upon after he left the program.
Once discharged, Blake immediately got a sponsor who had the same story he did and he did exactly what he told him to do. He found his Higher Power, went to meetings and started volunteering at St. Matthew’s House nearly every day. Being around others in their journey, helped him stay clean and motivated to keep it that way.
Blake started helping in the kitchen and learned a lot about food. By default after someone left unexpectedly, he became the assistant chef. He worked there for over two years helping to launch their catering service. He proved to be an invaluable asset managing everything from the sales and marketing to launching fundraisers. Opportunities began to come his way and he was quickly recruited by popular local chef Brian Roland to help him launch his extremely successful catering business Crave Culinaire where he was able to apply his newfound management skills.
Today, with five years of sobriety under his belt, a clear head and strong business sense, Blake is applying all that he has learned to his own home maintenance business. He maintains his sobriety by having a strong faith, being active in his church, staying engaged in the recovery community and giving back by fundraising and volunteering for David Lawrence Center. Blake has found tremendous success both personally and professionally and he counts his blessings every day for finding David Lawrence Center.