New Mexico - Medicaid Matters: Don Paul's story

One second at a time: Addiction is a battle no one should fight alone

Ever since he was little, my younger brother has always been one of the smartest and most charismatic people I know. His smile can light up any room. As children in New Mexico, we were close with two very loving parents.

At the time I went off to college, Don had been struggling with depression, and as some young teenagers can do, he was mixed up with the wrong crowd. One of the biggest fears of any parent – or older sibling, for that matter.

At 14, he started drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana and cocaine. Our parents tried everything they could to help their son. From getting him counseling to reminding him every day just how much they loved him. They also sought out both inpatient and outpatient rehab treatments.

Don was on our mother’s private insurance where the costs of inpatient rehab services were only covered for 30 days. The rest is out of pocket. Like any other disease, mental illness can be short-term or long-term. The problem was, Don’s illness was longer term.

He hit rock bottom. While high, he committed a crime that landed him on probation. After several substance abuse probation violations, he found himself in prison. Sadly, that was the only place where he had access to ongoing treatment.

After serving his time, Don and our parents realized that he no longer qualified for private insurance because he had been in prison. In an effort to maintain his five-year stretch of sobriety and thrive long-term, he was able to enroll in Medicaid.

Today, Don is still clean, and hustles every day as a restaurant assistant manager making a good, honest wage. His goal is to become a full-time manager, so he can receive full benefits.

When I asked my brother about sharing his story, he said, “Cool. Love you, Sis. Thanks for all your love and support. One day at a time. Sometimes one second at a time.”

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