Spotlight

Zac Jones

 

With police cars surrounding him, Zac Jones knew it was finally time to surrender. He knew he had a problem. After a nasty fight, Zac’s girlfriend had alerted the police to his location. “At the time, it felt like a massive betrayal,” he says. “I made amends to her, but now I feel like I should send her a thank you card. I literally surrendered my first day of recovery. I got on my knees and was taken to county jail.” That fateful day was Zac’s first step toward becoming the man we all know and love today.

Growing up, Zac’s family had enough money to provide for him and his two younger brothers, but they didn’t have nearly as much free-flowing wealth as the other Jews in their Bay Area community. When he was twelve, he had a solid group of friends, did well in school, and had only tried marijuana once or twice. “I didn’t get high the first few times I smoked,” he says. “Either someone burned us and sold us oregano or I didn’t inhale.”

When his family moved to a different part of town, Zac struggled to fit in with the kids around him. The parents of his old friends didn’t want them hanging out in his new neighborhood. That’s when he got involved with a rougher crowd—and harder drugs. “I remember getting high and then feeling like ‘I never want to not feel like this again.’ It spiraled out of control fast. People talk about weed not being addictive, but for me it was. It was a gateway drug,” Zac says.

Zac soon found himself shuffling between juvenile halls and 30-day rehabs—nothing worked. “Spin-dry 30-day rehabs do nothing to heal wounds,” he says. “30 or 60-day programs are good to let the wheels touch the ground and let the person separate from the substance, but it’s not enough to do the real internal work.” Over the next decade, Zac fell in love with meth and opiates and was in and out of institutions.

In 2008, his family was crushed by tragedy. One of Zac’s younger brothers suddenly passed away. Looking away with sadness he says, “[my brother] was using drugs and alcohol. He was disconnected and isolated. I saw it in him. The disease.” This terrible loss decimated his family. Soon after, his parents moved to Seattle, and his other brother moved to London. Zac was now truly alone, living on the streets of the Bay Area, without a purpose or direction. This is when he found himself in the wildly dysfunctional relationship that eventually led to his last arrest.

From jail, Zac got in contact with Beit T’Shuvah, and Carrie Newman quickly became his over-the-phone sponsor. She had one big piece of advice for him: “Just get here.” When it was finally time for him to leave jail, he was at yet another fork in the road. A group of guys who were also being released offered to take him to “The Jungle”—back to his old lifestyle. He declined their offer, get on a Megabus to Los Angeles, and came to Beit T’Shuvah. “I had nothing in my spirit and nothing in my physical possession other than a black trash bag with some clothes,” he says.

Zac spends his time at Beit T’Shuvah in a mix of clinical and administrative roles. Now, as Acting Director of Clinical Services, he maintains some of his old responsibilities and has taken on a handful of new ones.

Zac started as a program facilitator intern through the work therapy program, eventually making his way up to a full-time PF, and then PF supervisor. “I was a part of something. I had a seat at the table. I felt alive,” he says about his early days working at BTS. Before long, Zac got his accreditation and was hired as a drug and alcohol counselor. He was soon promoted to run the extended care program and then to lead counselor, and as of two weeks ago, Acting Director of Clinical Services. “For a guy coming in whose highest level of education was a GED from juvenile hall… it’s a pretty big deal to me,” Zac says.

Zac wants to remain teachable and to create a space for both ‘role and soul.’ “My role here is administrative. I’m the person people talk to if they’re in trouble,” he says, “but that’s only a small part. The bigger part is that I’m here because this placed saved me and saved my family. I’ll never be able to repay that. To fulfill my duties as an administrator and find time for the soul work—that’s the struggle.”

Zac’s family has come back together, thanks to Beit T’Shuvah. Last week, his mother and father happily gave him a cake for seven years of sobriety. Every year, he visits his brother in England, and his brother comes out here for the holidays. Every achievement Zac has made has been in loving memory of his late brother. “The only way I know to honor my brother and all the other people that we have lost is to keep putting one foot in front of the other and doing the work and showing up and knowing that everybody matters.” Looking past the big muscles and authoritative role, Zac Jones is a lovely and kindhearted man who is willing to help anyone who needs it. There is no end to the love and support Zac is willing to give to this community and all of its members.

With police cars surrounding him, Zac Jones knew it was finally time to surrender. He knew he had a problem. After a nasty fight, Zac’s girlfriend had alerted the police to his location. “At the time, it felt like a massive betrayal,” he says. “I made amends to her, but now I feel like I should send her a thank you card. I literally surrendered my first day of recovery. I got on my knees and was taken to county jail.” That fateful day was Zac’s first step toward becoming the man we all know and love today.

Growing up, Zac’s family had enough money to provide for him and his two younger brothers, but they didn’t have nearly as much free-flowing wealth as the other Jews in their Bay Area community. When he was twelve, he had a solid group of friends, did well in school, and had only tried marijuana once or twice. “I didn’t get high the first few times I smoked,” he says. “Either someone burned us and sold us oregano or I didn’t inhale.”

When his family moved to a different part of town, Zac struggled to fit in with the kids around him. The parents of his old friends didn’t want them hanging out in his new neighborhood. That’s when he got involved with a rougher crowd—and harder drugs. “I remember getting high and then feeling like ‘I never want to not feel like this again.’ It spiraled out of control fast. People talk about weed not being addictive, but for me it was. It was a gateway drug,” Zac says.

Zac soon found himself shuffling between juvenile halls and 30-day rehabs—nothing worked. “Spin-dry 30-day rehabs do nothing to heal wounds,” he says. “30 or 60-day programs are good to let the wheels touch the ground and let the person separate from the substance, but it’s not enough to do the real internal work.” Over the next decade, Zac fell in love with meth and opiates and was in and out of institutions.

In 2008, his family was crushed by tragedy. One of Zac’s younger brothers suddenly passed away. Looking away with sadness he says, “[my brother] was using drugs and alcohol. He was disconnected and isolated. I saw it in him. The disease.” This terrible loss decimated his family. Soon after, his parents moved to Seattle, and his other brother moved to London. Zac was now truly alone, living on the streets of the Bay Area, without a purpose or direction. This is when he found himself in the wildly dysfunctional relationship that eventually led to his last arrest.

From jail, Zac got in contact with Beit T’Shuvah, and Carrie Newman quickly became his over-the-phone sponsor. She had one big piece of advice for him: “Just get here.” When it was finally time for him to leave jail, he was at yet another fork in the road. A group of guys who were also being released offered to take him to “The Jungle”—back to his old lifestyle. He declined their offer, get on a Megabus to Los Angeles, and came to Beit T’Shuvah. “I had nothing in my spirit and nothing in my physical possession other than a black trash bag with some clothes,” he says.

Zac spends his time at Beit T’Shuvah in a mix of clinical and administrative roles. Now, as Acting Director of Clinical Services, he maintains some of his old responsibilities and has taken on a handful of new ones.

Zac started as a program facilitator intern through the work therapy program, eventually making his way up to a full-time PF, and then PF supervisor. “I was a part of something. I had a seat at the table. I felt alive,” he says about his early days working at BTS. Before long, Zac got his accreditation and was hired as a drug and alcohol counselor. He was soon promoted to run the extended care program and then to lead counselor, and as of two weeks ago, Acting Director of Clinical Services. “For a guy coming in whose highest level of education was a GED from juvenile hall… it’s a pretty big deal to me,” Zac says.

Zac wants to remain teachable and to create a space for both ‘role and soul.’ “My role here is administrative. I’m the person people talk to if they’re in trouble,” he says, “but that’s only a small part. The bigger part is that I’m here because this placed saved me and saved my family. I’ll never be able to repay that. To fulfill my duties as an administrator and find time for the soul work—that’s the struggle.”

Zac’s family has come back together, thanks to Beit T’Shuvah. Last week, his mother and father happily gave him a cake for seven years of sobriety. Every year, he visits his brother in England, and his brother comes out here for the holidays. Every achievement Zac has made has been in loving memory of his late brother. “The only way I know to honor my brother and all the other people that we have lost is to keep putting one foot in front of the other and doing the work and showing up and knowing that everybody matters.” Looking past the big muscles and authoritative role, Zac Jones is a lovely and kindhearted man who is willing to help anyone who needs it. There is no end to the love and support Zac is willing to give to this community and all of its members.