Adrian Silva, 52, is a sober addict who spent most of his adulthood getting high and cycling through jails in Southern California. We recently met in a Santa Ana Starbucks to talk about his drug use—which continued even while he was in jail—his criminal past, and the redemption he found at the Orange County Community Court’s drug program. An edited version of our conversation follows.
Adrian Silva: My drug of choice was meth, and that took me down a path called Misery Lane. The consequence to me using is that I gave away everything. Some addicts say, “I lost this and I lost that.” We don’t lose nothing; we give it away in our addiction. I gave away a union job. I was making $30 an hour. I had my own house. I had a new truck. I had credit cards. I had money. My girlfriend lived with me.
Juleyka Lantigua-Williams: Sounds like a pretty good life.
Silva: I thought it was, until I started making bad choices and hanging around with bad people. One thing led to another. They’d come over Friday night, have a couple of beers. Then it was Friday and Saturday night. Then it was Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night. The rest was downhill from there. I was lost for probably 15 years. I’ve probably been to jail 20 times—like a revolving door, in and out. I would get stopped by the police. They knew who I was. I was actively using. I didn’t have a job. I’m a mechanic, so I would look for day work, but I was unemployable. I would find part-time jobs working on cars, doing house maintenance, cleanups, little weekly jobs. Maybe a construction job for a week, a painting job, home repair. I was a functioning addict. After work, I went straight to the connection. My body craved it.