REAL LIFE Pillar Sustained Sobriety: Meet Josh

Throughout December, we’ll be sharing more about the Lifers we serve and the Pillars on the Pathway to Thriving. The matching gift opportunities are still available at
October 7th, 2020 was the day that changed Josh’s life forever. He nearly died after overdosing twice in one day. After serving time in jail, he found his way into the REAL LIFE program where he has been able to change his life. Josh has been working extremely hard to better himself, but the road coming was not always an easy one.
It all started for Josh when he turned 17 years old. He was introduced to cigarettes and began skipping school for the first time in his life. The cigarettes later escalated, and Josh began to smoke marijuana and drink alcohol before eventually dropping out of high school. As the years went on, his drug use got more aggressive as he started out taking pain pills and eventually moved on to heroin. He used drugs for most of his 20s, until he ended up in jail.
While incarcerated, Josh completed the RISE Program, a peer-run program at Henrico Jail East that made it possible for individuals to focus on their recovery process while still behind bars. Josh completed the course and successfully graduated from the program, but as soon as he was released and back on the streets, he relapsed. In 2016, he was re-incarcerated, and started working with the RISE Program again.
Things were going well for Josh at first after his release, but before long he relapsed again, and began using drugs at an even higher frequency. And then everything changed on October 7, 2020, when he nearly lost his life to two overdoses. He was re-incarcerated for violating probation before being released on May 9, 2021.
After getting out of jail for the 3rd time in his life, Josh knew that it was time for a change, but he didn’t know how. His opportunity came through a chance encounter on a bus one day. He wasn’t trying to be nosy but noticed the individual sitting in front of him on the bus was looking through their phone, and he noticed the name Dr. Scarbrough. He remembered the name Dr. Scarbrough, and knew that she had founded the REAL LIFE program right here in Richmond. Josh then asked the person sitting in front of him, who happened to be a Lifer, if he could call Dr. Scarbrough. After speaking with her, Josh was soon after admitted into the program and placed into a house less than a week later!
May 21st, 2021 was Josh’s first day in the REAL LIFE program. He praises the program, explaining how grateful he is for the opportunity that Dr. Scarbrough and REAL LIFE have given him: “I know that she has saved a lot of lives and given us a chance…We’re able to get out of jail and go into the house without putting any money down. Not many cities or states have programs like this.”
The staff at REAL LIFE have helped Josh along the Pathway to Thriving. Quick Start to Employment Manager Sydney helped him find a job he enjoys, that he still holds 5 months later! His Pathway Navigator, Young, has helped him grow and succeed in many different ways over his time in the REAL LIFE program. Josh has used the opportunities given to him at REAL LIFE and continues to make strides in the right direction. He is currently saving up money to rent his own apartment and is in the process of getting his license back so he can purchase a car! The road to recovery has not been an easy one, but because of REAL LIFE, Josh now has a solid foundation under him and is able to work towards attaining his goals, each and every day!
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