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After battle with depression, addiction, Royce starts new life after graduation
Royce lost his father when he was 7. “I was sitting on his lap with my sister one night, and he told us that he loved us. Then his eyes rolled back into his head.” The doctors said he fell into a coma. They said he would be OK, so my mom left the hospital. Two minutes later he passed away.
“That was rough, growing up without a father. My mother was an amazing mother, but she worked a lot. She provided a lot or us, and I thank her for doing that, but missing a father is hard. I was hiding a lot of pain. I realize now that was the root cause. It was the main reason I went down the path I went down.”
When Royce was 12, he started hanging out with the wrong crowd and experimenting with drugs. “I was on the streets, running amuck, using drugs for 24 years,” he said.
Royce had a positive experience at the Teen Challenge program, and accepted Jesus, but a month or so after he finished, he was back to his old ways. “Growing up in a Christian home, I guess I was looking for my mom and my stepfather to show me how to live, guide me, but I never got any of that. I was drowning. I went back to the only thing I knew. I was homeless for several months before coming back.”
When he returned in his early 20s, the program hit him deeper. He got clean, staying that way for five years. “I decided to really get my life right,” Royce said. “I went to Bible College and rededicated my life to the Lord.” But in 2019, Royce went through a bad breakup. “I never trusted anyone, and then I decided to,” he said. “I gave my whole heart. And then she decided to leave one day.
I was just like, ‘Forget it. I gave it my all.’ I lost my job, I lost my place—I lost everything I had worked for for years.
“I decided to use again, to comfort my heart. That’s what I turned to. I continued to use drugs for a month. And there was one day I was about to use again, and I heard the Lord ask me, ‘Is this what you really want? Because you’re going to end up dead. You have two options: You can choose life or you can choose death. If you want to live, I’m here.’ I immediately got on the phone for help.”
Royce was referred to Renewed Hope and arrived in September 2019. “The program was awesome,” he said. “The way they do things here, they are truly willing to accept everybody—the homeless, people with multiple addictions, other issues. When I came here, I had been going through a deep depression for six months. They had one-on-ones with me—it’s so intimate here. They handle everyone individually because different people have different problems. The way they handled me, they were just praying and praying and praying for me and one day I got out of the depression. My demeanor changed, my spirit changed.”
Royce also faced a scary medical issue while in the program. He was scheduled for a quick outpatient surgery, but four hernias were found in his stomach during the operation that needed to be removed. Royce ended up needing a blood transfusion and had to remain in the hospital for two months. “I almost passed away,” he said. “I woke up in the ICU a couple days later and had no idea. But I was able to come out of it and I’m recovering.”
Royce graduated the Life Recovery Program and is now in the Transitional Living Program. He’s been clean for over a year. He’s planning on taking his barber’s license test this month. Royce plans on staying in the Transitional Living Program for six months or so—long enough to save up for a car and a place, and to get his license, so he can head back up to Central California to work.
“That’s where I consider home, so that’s my vision, but when you’re open, God usually changes plans,” Royce said with a laugh. As for other goals, “I’d like to have a family, and be able to be successful. I don’t want to give up when it’s hard and things don’t go as planned. I want to be a leader, be a man, and be able to provide for my family.”
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