Former Addict Turns Life Around, Dedicates New Career to Helping Others
National University changes lives! There’s no disputing that powerful fact.
From the steady persistence of wounded veterans to the personal triumph of victims of domestic violence, every year commencement brings dramatic stories of inspiring individuals who have turned their fortunes around through the transformative power of higher education and lifelong learning.
From the Class of 2016 comes the powerful tale of Adam Moore (BA, Psychology, 2016), a once homeless drug addict who followed a pathway from prison to the classroom. With each small measure of success he gained a little more confidence, and eventually his dedication and perseverance lead to a career helping others to overcome unspeakable hardships.
“Wow! There was a point in my life where I never thought I’d be here,” said the current intake coordinator for Veterans Village of San Diego, a local leader in meeting the needs of homeless military veterans. He also handles alcohol and drug case management for a small caseload, and for the first time in his life is living in a place of his own.
“Without an education, I wouldn’t be where I am,” added Mr. Moore. For him, this year’s graduation ceremony at PETCO Park is a pivotal landmark. “It will be one of the biggest days of my life.”
His academic journey started in 2010, shortly after being paroled. He pursued a certificate program first at San Diego Community College, which earned him an entry level position as a drug and alcohol counselor with his current employer in 2012. The true turning point however, had been several years earlier while serving as an inmate in a correctional facility.
In his mid 20s, Mr. Moore had been what he described as “a recreational drug user,” partying mostly on the weekends – primarily with cocaine. His downfall proved to be methamphetamine. “It was the drug that really bit me,” he said. Within five years, those crystal lines lead to living on the streets and partaking in petty crime. He was caught in a slippery slope of self-destructive behavior in which his priorities were tragically reversed.
“The meth came before everything,” said the recovered graduate, who has been clean and sober for almost eight years now. He put his drugs before family. He valued the high more than a roof over his head, and the pursuit of meth cost him his job, his friendships and any sense of security or income. “If I had any money left after scoring, I would use it on food and water.”At that point, I didn’t believe in myself. I thought I would be homeless and an addict all my life.”
Constantly at odds with the criminal justice system, Mr. Moore’s numerous probation violations combined with a conviction for possession of a stolen vehicle ultimately put him behind bars. That lead to what he called “that last line of cocaine.”
“I wanted another one right away, and was momentarily willing to go into all kinds of dangerous debt to get high. Seriously, I didn’t have a lot of money in prison, but I was about to borrow over my head and figure it out later. That’s when rational thought caught up with Mr. Moore, “with notions of what happens to inmates who don’t pay their bills.”
That moment marked the beginning of a long climb out of a dark, deep hole and eventually lead to holding a steady job, attending classes at community college, then enrolling at National University in August of 2014. A friend he worked with recommended the one-course-per-month format, and Mr. Moore liked the accelerated pace, “because it keeps you on your toes and doesn’t drag out.I walked in to check it out, fell in love with the concept and started classes there as soon as possible.”
The new alumnus said that with modest success and a few completed classes, he began to believe in himself and was consequently able to accomplish good grades and complete his degree. Today, because of his experience, he can relate with homeless veterans and their addictions at Veterans Village. Because of his degree, he can also help them to overcome their struggles just like he did.
Mr. Moore has a six-year-old son and two parents who are incredibly proud of his accomplishments. When he earned his associate’s degree, he said he didn’t want to make a big deal out of it; and wasn’t going to attend City College’s commencement. This time is different.
“My mom said ‘Oh no, son! You’re walking!”
He isn’t the first National University graduate to discover a second chance in life, and to turn all his liabilities into assets through higher education. Mr. Moore precedes other reformed addicts like Kimberly Stalcup, who earned her Master of Arts degree in Counseling last spring. With good fortune and a willingness to pay it forward, he hopes to inspire others like him to overcome their addictions, build self-confidence and give something back.