Ryan Cashman was raised in Florida. “My parents divorced when I was 3,” says Ryan. “I mostly lived with my Dad. He eventually remarried.
“In my early 20’s, I moved out and got my own place. I had a great job in Florida working with custom home theatres. I started to enjoy my success and lived in a gated community and had a nice car.
“I got into the party scene with friends and tried ecstasy. Taking ecstasy was something we would all do together and for me, it had to do with acceptance. I always strived for acceptance.
Ecstasy led to other drugs, including cocaine, which became my drug of choice. I was able to limit my drug use to the weekends so it was manageable at that point.
“The company I was working for closed and I started my own company. I loved being my own boss and I made a lot of money. I had just gotten married – she had two young boys. Because I had a lot of money, I had the ability to buy a lot of drugs. It took a toll on my marriage and we had a lot of ups and downs. She would be sitting at home with the kids wondering where I was and I would be out drinking and using drugs. We were married for seven years before she just couldn’t take it anymore. She had the two boys to take care of and couldn’t handle all of the ups and downs.
“After she left, I got clean for 8 or 9 months before I started dating a girl who was into pain-killers. I tried them with her and it became a daily thing. That was in 2008, when the economy was bad. I wasn’t making much money and what I did have was going straight to drugs. I had no where to go and decided to move to Calvert County, Maryland to live with my mom.
“I started to realize how far I had fallen. When my business was doing well, I was making 6 figures a year and I was now making $7.25 an hour and was living with my mom at the age of 36. I was pulled over for drunk driving and, since this was my second offense, they revoked my license.
“I was arrested for possession and was in jail for 3 months. I had never done jail time and it was very traumatic for me. I thought about the great life I used to live and where I was. I started reading and going to Bible studies. When I was in jail, I found out about HUM. I talked to the judge regarding my probation and told her of my plans to come to HUM. She told me if I stuck with my plan, everything would be alright. I never would have heard about HUM if I hadn’t gone to jail – everything happens for a reason.
“I arrived at HUM in April 2013 and I didn’t know what to expect. I’d never been in a recovery program and was nervous about the fact that it was a homeless shelter. As soon as I walked into the lobby and saw how nice everything was, I felt a little bit better. I was relieved to see that it wasn’t just cots on the floor.
“I started making friends and getting into the routine of life at the Mission. I soon realized that everyone is in the same boat here – we are all a mess but somehow it all works.
“Being here is a process of learning about yourself and how to deal with things. I think one of the hardest things I had to do was share my story with a class of the guys and be okay with my story. After the class, I finally realized that I am okay with the fact that I will always be an addict but, I don’t have to use anymore!
“It was so helpful for me to learn the 12 steps and be able to talk things through with the counselors here. They were very helpful as I worked on finding answers and working through things. It was a blessing to have this time in life to sit still. Without having to worry about meals or clothes, I was able to have the time I needed to focus on getting my life together. I used to get so caught up in everything that I lost but I’m now able to focus on moving forward.
“There were many times when I was tempted to leave the program but I fought my urges because I didn’t want to be impulsive. I wanted the satisfaction of knowing that I finished something. I’m so excited to have made it through and graduated from the program!
“Through the Mission’s vocational services, I got a job at Johns Hopkins. It’s an entry level job but it is okay because there is so much opportunity at Hopkins. They will pay for school and I would like to start taking classes this summer. It’s a great opportunity and I have hope!
“On the day that I graduated, I took a photo in front of the cross in the HUM lobby. The cross is made out of wood from the floor from the old chapel where men used to sleep on the floor and the inscription reads, “As this golden wood has borne the bodies and souls of your brothers before you, so too shall the Lord carry you forward on the road to recovery and salvation.” When I read those words it hit me – these guys are my brothers! No matter where I go or what I do, this place will always be a home to me!”