Dustin, 33

Meet Dustin

If I can go back in time and change one thing in my life, it would be the day that I tried drugs.

Incarcerated: 5yrs

Housed: Mark Stiles Unit, Beaumont, Texas

I woke up in a jail cell without the slightest idea of why I was even in there. My head was pounding, my throat was sore, and my hands were swollen. I had just gotten out of prison seven months earlier. I knew I’d be back here.

When I went to make a phone call, I couldn’t remember any numbers. I came to find out I’d been in the hospital on life support and in a coma after swallowing methamphetamine. Bits and pieces of that night started coming back. I remember being pulled over, the red and blue lights, but that’s it. Cops said I was foaming at the mouth and having seizures, they knew I swallowed dope. My dad told me my family visited the hospital, thinking it was for the last time.

If you were to ask me as a child what I wanted to be when I grew up, I’d say veterinarian. I loved animals. Who would have thought I would choose to go down this destructive path?

I’m from a small one-horse town in Texas, called Ganado, one red light, a Dairy Queen and a movie theater. I hung with my older cousins, smoked weed at 10, snorted cocaine at 13, and then pills.

I was 17 when I had my first run-in with the law. I flipped my SUV, got my first DUI and drug arrest. I remember sitting at my mom’s house listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers on a crack binge.

I was getting ready to check myself into rehab since probation was going to drug test me. My step dad walked in the room. When I turned and looked at him, we both just started bawling! “Why?” he asked. “Why do you keep doing this?”

Not until my mom stopped financially supporting me did I open my eyes and see who I was.

When I first get out, I do good, then I start hanging around the wrong people and using again. In order for me to stay out of here, I must cut ties. I’d really like to move somewhere, start over, maybe even out of Texas.

I’m learning two trades, auto mechanics and plumbing & pipefitting and to overcome my fear of failing. We have been on lockdown for over a year. I’m reading books, writing poems and working out Monday – Friday.