Small Nudges to Change: Ken G.’s Story

by Bree L.

Ken’s father was a convicted murderer, a member of the Hells Angels and a heroin addict who died after serving 15 years in prison for murder. His mother was a Hells Angels old lady, meaning she was the property of her husband, Dingo. Dingo was seen as an Alpha Dog to the group. Ken started using at age nine in fourth grade, mostly alcohol and pot. The pot was a gift from his then step-father.  It all began in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Ken’s usage progressed through junior high and high school. He added cocaine and crack to the mix. He also started “muling” drugs for the local motorcycle club around this time. Prior to high school graduation he became a three-time convicted felon (aggravated premeditated burglary, breaking and entering and possession of cocaine). 

He was fired  while in a blackout

Drugs and love brought him to San Francisco. It was his first geographic. He arrived with a girlfriend and a desire to figure out his life. He began working as a server in an Italian restaurant and moved up to work as a short order cook. This is where he was introduced to amphetamines. His girlfriend returned to Michigan, but Ken stayed here and found a new girlfriend. The drinking and using increased but his life still seemed manageable. 

In his mid-twenties he was introduced to I.V. heroin and cocaine, shooting speed balls while the drinking continued. His goal in life at that time was to be a functional junkie and social drinker. Vanity and ego helped keep it all together. 

Ken was arrested in San Jose and by this time had accumulated three additional felony convictions (possession of heroin, cocaine and possession of criminal tools). Criminal tools are anything from a needle to a crowbar, whatever a junkie might have. Meanwhile he continued to advance in the restaurant business moving into upper management and fine dining. He became a sommelier (wine expert) and decided to taper off into just being an alcoholic.

A friend overdosed and died. Ken also had many abscesses that wouldn’t go away. As he says, “Small nudges, like that.” He continued working and drinking, got married, had a child and by this time moved up to general manager of an upscale restaurant.

Photo credits available from thepoint@aasfmarin.org

Third time’s the charm

In his mid-thirties, he started blacking out. This was unpredictable whether it was 2 or 15 drinks. His body just unexpectedly quit. There was also some internal bleeding. He was fired  while in a blackout. He had no recollection of the dismissal but found out when he went to work the next morning. He was down to drinking Pepto Bismol and vodka to treat his internal bleeding. At this point he decided he needed to quit for his family.

On April 9, 2012, at age 37, he went to the Dry Dock. He’d stopped with A.A. in the past, but it hadn’t seemed to stick. This time he asked the first man he saw to be his sponsor. Luckily the man said yes. This was followed by a week of cold turkey and detox with the DT’s. He spent his time going to meetings and started working the steps. Soon he landed a job overseeing food and beverage concessions in five card houses. 

Ken continued with that same sponsor until he relapsed at five years. Ken now has a new sponsor. He’s still married with a wonderful child and goes to four to five meetings a week while actively working the steps and mentoring sponsees. The thing he appreciates most is the camaraderie and the spiritual understanding of the program. Before A.A, he says, “I had no spiritual practice and now have a new way of thinking. A.A. completely changed my life and made me a different person. I was a three-time convicted felon and now have changed to a loving father and a successful businessman as well as being a gracious member of A.A.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email