Years ago, Johnathon Guerino had two options: hop in a white van that shuttles people to drug-and-alcohol rehab centers or get on the Metro subway and “go get loaded.”
“I decided to jump on the (subway),” he said Thursday during a Facebook Live event with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station’s Juvenile Intervention Team, or J-Team.
In staring at his reflection while in the tunnel, Guerino had a moment of insight. “I remember looking at myself on this glass, where I could see myself as clear as day, and I look and I feel it in my heart, like, ‘Man, I’m an addict,’” he said.
Despite that moment of clarity, he said, he returned to jail two weeks later.
Guerino had a troubled upbringing, with a father who actively used cocaine, ultimately placing him in the foster care system. At age 13, he was introduced to drugs and alcohol and spent time in and out of jail. Today, Guerino is more than five years clean.
But it was no easy feat, he said.
“I couldn’t get it; I didn’t understand (that I had a problem with drugs and alcohol),” Guerino said. “The fact that I had to use every time I was out (of jail), led me to believe later on that I was emotionally illiterate. I couldn’t identify what was going on with me on the inside.”
Guerino felt depressed, hopeless and anxious at the time, but he did not know how to seek help and did not feel he could turn to his friends, who would suggest suppressing his emotions with sleep or drugs. That’s when he decided to turn to treatment.
“When I stopped doing things my way, the insanity part stopped,” he said. “I’m a firm believer that drug addiction is mental health (related). I feel like we treat it like a crime, but there’s some certain aspects that have to be done. I’m one of those people that needed leverage to get me sober.”
Guerino is a lead counselor at Insight Treatment, which offers an intensive outpatient dual-diagnosis treatment program for teens and their families who are facing drug and alcohol, behavioral or self-harming issues.
Insight Treatment has various locations across the region, including at 26330 Diamond Place, Suite 120/130 in Santa Clarita. Guerino said he is open to listen to and help those in need. He can be reached at [email protected].
Members of the J-Team also offered additional local resources:
- Action Family Counseling: 800-367-8336, actiondrugrehab.com
- Child & Family Center: 661-259-9439, childfamilycenter.org
- Valley Recovery Center at Newhall: 866-986-2486, valleyrecoveryandtreatment.com
- SCV Mental Health Center, 661-288-4800, locator.lacounty.gov/health
- The Way Out Recovery SCV, 661-296-4444, thewayoutrecoveryscv.com
- J-Team: 661-255-1121, email [email protected]