Breaking the Chains -
Gilbert Velez

Gilbert Velez

Gilbert Velez
Location: North side of Chicago

Gilbert Velez has spent most of his life battling a heroin addiction. For Velez, kicking the habit was difficult; in fact, it seemed down right impossible. Bouncing around from one support group to another, Velez searched for a way to take back control of his life and put his addiction to rest -- and eventually found himself at the front door of Above and Beyond Family Recovery Center.

After struggling with heroin for 40 years, Velez broke the chain; he credits his recovery to a single source.

“I tried Narcotics Anonymous, I tried it all,” Velez said. “But then I tried Above and Beyond and their SMART (Self-Management and Recovery Training) program. I had never done anything like it before; it really trains you to think differently and it works.”

In addition to the SMART program, Velez believes that the culture and atmosphere at Above and Beyond has helped him -- and others like him -- move forward.

"Mostly everybody here is in the same situation even though their stories might be different; but everybody has the same reason -- to recover. It's a comfortable place and there is a real sense of community," Velez says. "Nobody judges you and everyone is understanding."

Velez hopes to see more rehabilitation centers like Above and Beyond in the future, but right now, he’s happy that the rehabilitation center is expanding across Chicago and opening a second location. He knows how quickly an addiction can take over a person’s life, but today, he also knows that there’s a solution.

“I would tell people who are struggling to come to Above and Beyond, to give it a shot,” Velez says. “Nine out of ten times, you’ll

pick up something that’s beneficial to you; it’s a good place and they should have more places like it.”