Alex Tara - Brave Faces Portrait Gallery

“I live in Redding, I’m a district manager for a local company and oversee 12 different stores across the region, and I love to play disc golf, baseball, football, basketball. Basically, sports and coaching my two sons’ sports teams are the center of my life. A big part of that is trying to give my kids the childhood I never had. 

I moved to Bella Vista when I was 12-years-old and my father’s struggle with alcoholism got worse and worse. I tried to fit in with my step-siblings, but my stepbrother was a star athlete and popular. My stepsisters were beautiful and super skinny. And all I saw in the mirror was a short fat kid who wasn’t good at anything. I could never add up. Those feelings of being ‘less than’ were at the root of the depression and issues I had.”

 

"“From middle school through my freshman year, I was bulimic. I’d gorge myself to feel comfortable until I would feel bloated and then I’d throw up to feel comfortable again. Many people struggle with different kinds of eating disorders, not just women. It’s about trying to find relief and comfort. It doesn’t mean you’re less of a man." 


“My freshman year my Dad and I moved to downtown Redding, and that’s when I found methamphetamines. I saw my brother take a hit through a crack of his bedroom door, and it started as my trying to emulate him. After my first hit, the effect was instantaneous. I went from feeling like the bottom of the barrel to the top of the mountain. Of course, I was blind to the damage I was doing to my life as I chased that feeling and kept getting loaded.” 


“I was heavily using meth, and my dad kicked me out of the house after a huge fight. A couple of older guys took me under their wing and taught me the ways of the streets, and they were my role models. I had no money or job,  so I slung dope, stole, robbed, did whatever I could to get loaded and just live. By my 18th birthday, I had 30 petitions before the juvenile court. I was sent to boot camps, group homes, recovery centers, you name it. I had my first child when I was 19, and I also got two major charges for meth possession that led to my serving nearly three years in prison. 
 

Listen to Alex talk about his life on the streets and how it affected his morals and values.


"When the Addicted Offender Program came up, I didn’t want to do it. It’s a very structured program: You do one-on-one sessions with a therapists, you go to four Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous meetings a week. You’re like entrenched. I felt these programs never worked for me, but then one day, it was like the voice of God popped into my head and said “No stupid, you have never worked AA.'"


“I ended up graduating AOP, and it’s remarkable the changes it made for me. I discovered the root of all my problems was me. I also realized I was full of rage, spite and anger because I never learned to forgive. When you have multiple felonies on your record, it can be difficult to not be judged by your past. So my main goal with AOP was to get my record cleared. But I also developed other goals like being a good father, being a good son, and being a quality person. My goal isn’t perfection. My goal is progress."

Listen to Alex talk about the role disc golf has played in his recovery.



"A lot of people think ‘Once a druggy, always a druggy.’ But everyone has regrets about things they’ve done that don’t represent who they truly are. My advice to friends and loved ones is to never stop loving people struggling with addiction. That doesn’t mean let them take advantage of you. I mean visit them if they’re in jail. Let them know that they’re loved. My grandma was that person for me. If she had not loved me unconditionally, my heart may have turned completely cold and hard.” 

Listen to Alex explain how the stigma of addiction can be a barrier to getting help and support.