Living The Good Life -
Anthony Steel

Anthony Steele

Anthony Steel - 27
Chicago, Illinois

You may have heard a story like this one, before . . . Anthony’s first arrest was the result of simply riding his bike down the street. In an unfortunate, yet all-too-common scenario -- it happened to be down the wrong street at the wrong time and he was mistakenly/ falsely arrested for a serious crime. He was released on bond, but, then began the repeated and required court dates which went on and on and on. Even though he was innocent, at the advice of a public defender he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge. Sound familiar? If not, this is again, another scenario which unfortunately happens more than people think. Lacking the right support and not wanting to go to jail, he didn't think he had a choice. Probation compared to the possibility of serving time seemed like the best and only option to him.

Anthony, like many often are in his case, was also unaware of what being a convicted felon would mean for him and his future. Once Anthony was 'in the system', any future arrests or run-ins with the law would likely end up with him being sent to jail, regardless of the charge. And unfortunately for him, it did.

Compounding the problem, Anthony admits, was that he was a very regular marijuana smoker, and had been since the age of 17 years old. He had impulse control issues, some anger issues, and the marijuana helped him with that -- except when it didn’t

When it didn't, he ‘caught another case’ (the lingo of street-denial, of non-responsibility -- meaning he was arrested again). He ended up in jail. Then he was arrested again, and again. Although he served some time -- he was one of the lucky ones; as he was fortunate to be released on probation, again and again. The arrests, Anthony admits, were of his own doing based on his lifestyle, the path he was on, and the choices he was making.

Anthony's most recent probation, included the stipulation that he be required to attend drug treatment for his marijuana addiction. He was referred to Above and Beyond and at first, was an unwilling participant in the group sessions (referred simply as 'group' at Above and Beyond). He didn’t take them or the program seriously, he says, "I would smoke marijuana and attend group." Even though he was learning a lot in the classes, in group, and began to like and care about the others in group -- "I would still leave, and light-up," he says.

As he learned more about addiction though, and got support from group members; he began to realize that he would soon have to tell the truth, and not disappoint his friends-in-sobriety any longer.

Gradually, as he continued to attend the Above and Beyond classes, continued to learn, and began to really respect the members of his group, Anthony came to the decision -- to QUIT. To stop smoking marijuana. He told his group members the truth, that he had still been using, which most of them knew anyway. But, by coming clean and trying to stay clean; he received even more support from his group members -- and most importantly, from himself.

Anthony is no longer required by the Court to attend Above and Beyond. However, he still does, on his own. He continues to attend group, has gone longer than ever before without marijuana, and feels he has "the self-growth and the group’s support to stay drug-free", he says.