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Jerome Piper of Aspire Counseling Services appears on the “Knockin’ Doorz Down” Podcast hosted by KDD Media Company

Jerome Piper is the Executive Director of Aspire Counseling Services, Fresno location. Jerome is a Substance Use Disorder Certified Counselor (SUDCC), Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor 1 (CADC1), and holds a bachelor’s degree from California State University. He has been in the alcohol and drug counseling field since 2017. Jerome appeared on KDD Media’s ‘Knockin’ Doors Down” podcast program to talk about his struggles with addiction and how he now helps others.

The KDD Media podcast “Knockin’ Doors Down”, focuses on ending the stigma around mental health and addiction. Each Monday features a new guest, from celebrities to people from all walks of life who have experienced challenges and adversities and turned them into their greatest advantages and passions. Jerome Piper is one of those who has broken through the struggle of addiction and now focuses on helping others to do the same.

Host Jason LaChance and cohost Mikey Nawrocki spoke with Jerome Piper on October 18, 2021. Jerome grew up in a household without a father figure, facing gang pressures, and experiencing trauma and domestic abuse. Jerome used sports as a focus to avoid the drug pressures and gang lifestyle while growing up in Bakersfield, CA. Football became his focus and took him to College of the Sequoias.

Once at college, Jerome was tasting freedom and being exposed to many things he had been sheltered from during his younger years while focusing on sports and avoiding the gang life. He became immersed in the peer pressure of drug use and began frequent partying and drinking and began using ecstasy and cocaine. Over the next several years, he moved around to different areas, got married and had children,  and continued to work during the week and party on the weekends, feeling he deserved it from working so hard. Jerome continued to party and do drugs, progressing to crack, PCP, and meth until things spiraled out of control.

Jerome credits his mother for “holding him down” during his addiction and says she is the light if his life and holds him accountable. His grandmother, before she passed away, was someone he always looked to and knew was always praying for him; her loss impacted him. Jerome spoke about the sense of community that everyone needs, and when you don’t have that sense of community, the drugs and that addiction lifestyle become your community. That is why it is so important for addicts to find a sober community to support them. Jerome says that you must find a mentor, sponsor, group to relate to and get that positive sense of a sober community. Being in a new community now in Fresno with his youngest daughter, he has really learned the importance of finding a sense of community. Jerome says that when you are in doubt, go to a meeting.

Host Jason LaChance and cohost Mikey Nawrocki spoke with Jerome Piper on October 18, 2021. Jerome grew up in a household without a father figure, facing gang pressures, and experiencing trauma and domestic abuse. Jerome used sports as a focus to avoid the drug pressures and gang lifestyle while growing up in Bakersfield, CA. Football became his focus and took him to College of the Sequoias.

Once at college, Jerome was tasting freedom and being exposed to many things he had been sheltered from during his younger years while focusing on sports and avoiding the gang life. He became immersed in the peer pressure of drug use and began frequent partying and drinking and began using ecstasy and cocaine. Over the next several years, he moved around to different areas, got married and had children,  and continued to work during the week and party on the weekends, feeling he deserved it from working so hard. Jerome continued to party and do drugs, progressing to crack, PCP, and meth until things spiraled out of control.

Jerome credits his mother for “holding him down” during his addiction and says she is the light if his life and holds him accountable. His grandmother, before she passed away, was someone he always looked to and knew was always praying for him; her loss impacted him. Jerome spoke about the sense of community that everyone needs, and when you don’t have that sense of community, the drugs and that addiction lifestyle become your community. That is why it is so important for addicts to find a sober community to support them. Jerome says that you must find a mentor, sponsor, group to relate to and get that positive sense of a sober community. Being in a new community now in Fresno with his youngest daughter, he has really learned the importance of finding a sense of community. Jerome says that when you are in doubt, go to a meeting.

Jerome went through years of addiction. He had his first child at age 30, and first arrest at age 33 for possession of a controlled substance, which stopped his ability to continue coaching kids. He was going to school to become a teacher, and the arrest sidelined his passions and he lost his focus. His choices shut things down and he didn’t know what to do, drugs became his focus and snowballed out of control with 4 arrests and 7 allegations in a 3-year period. His longest stay in jail was 78 days for resisting arrest. It was a traumatic experience and helped him to realize that he had become what he had fought to not become, following the same path as some of his stepfathers.

Jerome spoke about how the brain becomes fully developed around age 25. While his addiction occurred after age 25, Jerome knows the disadvantage that happens with addiction in kids whose brains are not fully developed, that is why he focuses on helping youth and getting them into treatment. Knowing that treatments don’t always work the first time, as they did not all work for him, he encourages parents to continue to place their children in programs like Aspire Counseling Services’ residential, IOP, and PHP programs until something eventually sticks. Jerome knows that someone must be committed to wanting to get better and believe in their ability to get sober to achieve sobriety.

Jerome talked about the appeal and pull of drugs; the right of passage that some young men feel to do drugs and that intense peer pressure. Jerome spoke about the brain becoming addicted, not just to the drugs, but to the lifestyle: the adrenaline rush and physical stimulation just thinking about getting the drugs and the exciting rush of being in the seedy part of town and feeling accepted. Jerome spoke of the need to educate our young people to navigate this world and all the things coming at them, to become more secure in themselves so they can overcome that peer pressure.

For Jerome, there were several moments that impacted him; one was being raided in his grandparent’s house, he considered that an epic failure. He faced immense shame and guilt for that occurring and it is one of the amends he continues to focus on today. For Jerome, the turning point became the birth of his youngest child. He had stopped drugs several times before, always relapsing prior to that moment. On Christmas Eve, when his daughter was one day old, she was removed from the hospital by Child Protective Services who were concerned for her welfare. Jerome celebrates his sober birthday one month after that event. The choice of his daughter over the drugs was the motivating factor for Jerome, he got sober and got his daughter back. He maintains hope for seeing his two other children more, even with the challenge of them living far away.

Jerome went through years of addiction. He had his first child at age 30, and first arrest at age 33 for possession of a controlled substance, which stopped his ability to continue coaching kids. He was going to school to become a teacher, and the arrest sidelined his passions and he lost his focus. His choices shut things down and he didn’t know what to do, drugs became his focus and snowballed out of control with 4 arrests and 7 allegations in a 3-year period. His longest stay in jail was 78 days for resisting arrest. It was a traumatic experience and helped him to realize that he had become what he had fought to not become, following the same path as some of his stepfathers.

Jerome spoke about how the brain becomes fully developed around age 25. While his addiction occurred after age 25, Jerome knows the disadvantage that happens with addiction in kids whose brains are not fully developed, that is why he focuses on helping youth and getting them into treatment. Knowing that treatments don’t always work the first time, as they did not all work for him, he encourages parents to continue to place their children in programs like Aspire Counseling Services’ residential, IOP, and PHP programs until something eventually sticks. Jerome knows that someone must be committed to wanting to get better and believe in their ability to get sober to achieve sobriety.

Jerome talked about the appeal and pull of drugs; the right of passage that some young men feel to do drugs and that intense peer pressure. Jerome spoke about the brain becoming addicted, not just to the drugs, but to the lifestyle: the adrenaline rush and physical stimulation just thinking about getting the drugs and the exciting rush of being in the seedy part of town and feeling accepted. Jerome spoke of the need to educate our young people to navigate this world and all the things coming at them, to become more secure in themselves so they can overcome that peer pressure.

For Jerome, there were several moments that impacted him; one was being raided in his grandparent’s house, he considered that an epic failure. He faced immense shame and guilt for that occurring and it is one of the amends he continues to focus on today. For Jerome, the turning point became the birth of his youngest child. He had stopped drugs several times before, always relapsing prior to that moment. On Christmas Eve, when his daughter was one day old, she was removed from the hospital by Child Protective Services who were concerned for her welfare. Jerome celebrates his sober birthday one month after that event. The choice of his daughter over the drugs was the motivating factor for Jerome, he got sober and got his daughter back. He maintains hope for seeing his two other children more, even with the challenge of them living far away.

Jerome spoke about his desire to now be of service to his community. Jerome views his epic failure as a father as the catalyst for him to get sober, find recovery, and embrace the sober lifestyle. He has learned to own his failures and own his choices and to make amends. He now wants to help others learn they can change, make amends, and make all their bad situations right. Jerome states that sobriety is learning to be present, not necessarily achieving the expectations you had, but embracing the present and being in the moment.

Jerome has found his motivation and faith through his belief in God. He wakes every morning and meditates and prays, then focuses on getting his four-year-old daughter ready for the day, and she keeps him focused. Jerome says that everyone in recovery needs to find that higher power, whatever it is for them that keeps them motivated and gives them hope.

Jerome is committed to being there for anyone who needs him. There are a multitude of programs to help individuals gain control of their lives and find sobriety. He says everyone needs to find a meeting, or a counselor, or a group and give it 110% until they find what works for them. Just reach out and ask for help. At Aspire Fresno, Jerome has found his ability to give back to his community and help others. Every day he gets to live out Aspire’s motto of “Planting Seeds and Saving Lives.”

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