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“L.A. CADA saved my life,” says John Gillis. He Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 4.45.42 PMtells his story to help others.“If recovering addicts don’t ever discuss their addictions, how on earth would anyone know they can reach out to us if they need help? My hope is that someone will read this and say, ‘If he can get clean and sober, I can too.’”
Gillis describes himself as a public service announcement. Some people have diabetes or cancer; Gillis has a disease called addiction. He wants to gift wrap what two decades of sobriety feels like and pass it on to make others understand what it means to have been given a second chance at life.“I had four siblings and no dad growing up. My mom struggled to take care of us and we moved a lot,” he recalls.“I was overweight ever since I can remember and kids teased me. I wanted friends and I wanted acceptance. When I got to high school, I found that I could get high and get other people high, and that meant having lots of friends.”

After a while, he became addicted and started doing things that hurt his family. “I hated what I was doing, hated myself, and thought everyone would be better off if I wasn’t there anymore.” He shared these thoughts with his brother Bob, a Santa Fe Springs firefighter. Bob found a program for John and then sent him to a place called Allen House. On the way there, John remembers feeling terrified, not knowing what he was getting himself into. But when he walked through the doors of the Allen House, a resident welcomed him and he knew he was no longer alone. He felt safe, understood.
Because of his past addiction-associated behavior, Gillis was wracked with guilt. His counselor helped him explore and understand his feelings. He practiced coping skills for living clean and sober. He discovered he was worth something as his peers gave him positive feedback. In his six months of treatment, Gillis stayed sober, got a job in a grocery store, and rebuilt relationships with his family who he had avoided while he was using drugs. He and his 16-year-old niece began corresponding and she told him,“I missed you! It’s nice to have you back in our family.”

Today, Gillis owns a thriving grocery business and has a lovely wife and two children. He knows that “sobriety means being around to capture all life’s precious moments.” Gillis and his wife, Dianna, adopted their daughter, Sandi when she was two years old. On August 17, 2012, Gillis celebrated 20 years of sobriety. If not for his transformation into recovery at the L.A. CADA Allen House, Sandi would not have had parents or a loving family to call her own.

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Phone: 562-906-2676