Cameron grew up surfing, skateboarding, and having fun with two brothers and two sisters in the proud community of Venice, California or as he would say “dogtown”. Surfing was a huge part of his upbringing, with his dad and older brother both being competition winning surfers, Cameron was quick to follow suit, winning several competitions like the Venice Surfathon, Scholastic Surf Series, and the Western Surfing Association.
Surfing often comes with a lifestyle of drinking and smoking pot, which Cameron was no stranger to. Already having steady work with his father as an electrician, he did not see any problem in ditching school to drink and hang out with his friends. After all, you don’t need to be on the honor roll to become a pro surfer. It wasn’t until he broke his ankle skateboarding that his life started to take a turn for the worse.
Unable to work or surf, he found that the prescription painkillers he was prescribed not only eased the pain he had in his broken ankle but also worked to ease his boredom, stress, and any discomfort he might be feeling. He went through his prescription, but his pain and discomfort continued. With no pills left in the bottle, and a doctor unwilling to write him another prescription, he decided to reach out to street dealers to help him obtain the painkillers he was seeking.
As so often happens when purchasing drugs on the black market, Cameron wasn’t getting exactly what he paid for. It didn’t take long for him to realize that all the pills he was buying were Fentanyl, pressed and packaged to resemble the painkillers he was familiar with. Instead of turning back and re-assessing, Cameron decided to go all in. He immersed himself in the lifestyle of drugs and crime. Instead of paying a premium for the fake pills he was getting, he decided it was much more effective and economical to purchase fentanyl in powdered form. He lost his job and completely abandoned surfing. He started living out of motels and selling drugs to support his habit.
Deep down Cameron knew he needed help, but he wasn’t ready. Plus, he didn’t want to burden his loved ones with his problems. As much as they tried to get him the help he needed, he would just shut them out.
After a series of arrests, overdoses, and near death experiences, he started to feel hopeless. “One day I overdosed on fentanyl and was actually dead for a minute,” he says, “not long after that I cut my foot open and nearly bled to death because I was so high.” Cameron realized that if he kept going the way he was going then death would soon catch up to him.
Cameron hadseveral warrants out for his arrest and not much hope that he could turn his life around, when he found Beit T’Shuvah. With the desperation of a dying man, he finally stepped through the doors and into recovery.
Cameron used that desperation to his advantage, forcing himself to attend all the groups, counseling sessions, and therapy. It didn’t take long for his spirituality to start to grow. He started connecting with the community and finding value in his life.
With the help of the hard working members in Beit T’Shuvah’s alternative sentencing department, he was given a second chance at life. This granted him the opportunity to stay here in lieu of a lengthy prison sentence.
“My relationship with my family and friends is being repaired and I get to help other people going through similar struggles,” he shares. Plus he has been afforded the opportunity to work with his father and has rediscovered his passion for surfing. “Most importantly I get to be a part of my niece and nephews life as a positive influence,” he genuinely states.
Cameron’s story is one of strength, hope, and recovery.
For all of us, it is a useful reminder that life comes in waves.