On any given day, you can find Delvin Johnson serving his community. He currently works as the Assistant Warehouse Manager at the Anne Arundel County Food Bank and as the House Manager at the Samaritan House in Annapolis, MD. In addition to his two jobs, Delvin will soon begin the process of attaining his Peer Recovery Specialist certification, so that he can provide to others the lifesaving services and support he received during his time in treatment for substance use disorder (SUD) at Gaudenzia’s Crownsville campus.
Before deciding to live his life in service of others, Delvin had to reckon with a troubled family history, break a cycle of prison stays, and take back control of his life after drug use.
This is Delvin’s story.
The Pain of Living
I was very outgoing as a child, very athletic, extremely family oriented, and adventurous. I liked to go through the woods and explore, but I really wanted to be one thing — a professional basketball player. I started using drugs and alcohol at 14. It began with me stealing beers out of the refrigerator, then it escalated to casually drinking when I would get around my friends. Using made me very sociable. I think it helped me deal with everyday life as a kid, but it helped me suppress the pain of living in a dysfunctional family too. My mother struggled with addiction, and I was without a father.
Not Caring About My Life, or Anyone Else’s
Eventually, the drug use became unmanageable. I started using daily, and it became a habit that led me to a life of crime. I became an absent father myself, and spent a lot of time in prisons, not caring about my life or anyone else’s life. That’s when I realized I needed help.
Getting to Know Who Delvin Was
Going through treatment wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. I just needed to be determined to get clean and sober. I was tired. I reached my rock bottom and realized there was only one way out. I built a solid foundation and I stood on it, where I remain today. I did this by getting to know who Delvin was – regurgitating all the negative things I had suppressed for many years, and replacing them with positives. I had to change a lot of things about myself.
My biggest challenge really was me. I would not get out of my own way to live life on life’s terms. I dealt with it by talking to others, staying busy and listening to suggestions. I believe you need to love God and yourself before you can love anyone else. It’s also important to stay connected, and not be afraid to ask for help. I had to learn how to face adversity head on without going back to where I came from. The process was a very emotional one, because I was numb to all my feelings until I arrived at Gaudenzia. They taught me how to love myself, as well as others.
That’s What They Taught Me
I started feeling emotions I had never felt before. That part of treatment was very important to me. The program was absolutely wonderful, because if it could help a person like me, it can help anybody. I am truly honored to have been a part of Gaudenzia at Crownsville. Without them, I would not be where I am today.
I had Mr. Brown, Mr. Terry, Ms. Debbie, and especially my counselor, Ms. Lisa. They helped me identify with who I was, and not who I wanted to be. They helped me realize that understanding oneself makes you a better person. Their teachings and counseling helped me open up about my problems and pain. They taught me how to deal with it without the use of drugs and alcohol. Learning about coping skills and how to deal with everyday life was especially helpful. Those classes were very important to me. One of the biggest things I missed in my life was self care. That’s what they taught me.
“Seeing Delvin use his voice to give back what was freely given to him and knowing the work that he does speaks volume of what we do as a program and organization. I had the opportunity to work with Delvin when he first arrived in treatment in 2020. This allowed us to build a relationship that we can look back on today and see that we wanted more for him than he wanted for himself at the time. The fact that he’s come this far in his short journey lets me know that what we do is not just a job, but a mission in helping Delvin, and all who open the doors of Gaudenzia, see the opportunities life has in store for them.”– Anthony Brown, Program Supervisor at Gaudenzia Crownsville
If I Could Be of Help to Anyone, I’m There
If I didn’t get help, I wouldn’t have the drive to do what I do today. I wouldn’t have God, my family, or my two jobs. My life today is simply amazing! I get to spend quality time with my partner, meditate, and most importantly, serve my God. I love basketball and eating. I’m blessed.
My short-term goals are to get my peer-recovery license and to open a halfway house, but one day, I want to have a chain of halfway houses for men and for women. I’m passionate about this, because I remember my pain in active addiction, and if I could be of help to anyone, I’m there. My passion comes from experience. Right now, I’m in the process of finding evening classes I can take online to get my peer recovery license.
“I am so proud of Delvin’s recovery journey. I’ve worked with him throughout several chapters of his life and to see him now is remarkable. The belief he has in himself and knowing he is worthy of recovery, the relationships he’s been able to rebuild, and to now cultivate and the life goals he’s finally achieving, are nothing short of a miracle. What we aim for all those who pass through our doors to achieve is the message Delvin openly shares and gives back regularly to our clients and the recovery community — one of resilience, determination, and faith in yourself and in the process.”– Kristy Blalock, Executive Director at Gaudenzia
To Anyone Still Struggling
My message to anyone still struggling with substance use is for them to stay in prayer. Don’t give up, and don’t let anyone tell you that you’re nothing but an “addict”. You’re more than that. You’re worthy of a sober life.
If you or someone you love needs help finding treatment for substance use disorder, please call our 24-hour Treatment and Referral HelpLine at 833.976.HELP (4357) today or email [email protected]