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The Queen's Chair: Profile In Courage: Jai Poole's Win Over Temptation (1466 hits)

The beauty of Facebook. I found my Purdue classmate and New Directional Players actor compadre, a Black drama club, Jai Poole, an environmental engineer, who I hadn't seen since 1983. I sent him a friend request. Though he didn't remember me initially; he was able to shake the cobwebs loose and finally "friended" me. We caught up on what happened to our lives post-graduation. We had kids, houses, caught up about the whereabouts of others. One thing that happened to Jai that I never imagined: drug addiction.

The Chicago-born and raised Poole was addicted to crack for 10 years. Even though he was brought up with a Catholic School education and surrounded by parents and siblings who loved him and went to Sunday School, he fell "victim" to temptations. Although, he didn't get hooked initially, Jai explains the thrill of the drug was getting the next high. "I see life so differently now," explains Poole, who has been drug free almost 20 years. "At the time, I couldn't do anything about it. Normal people think about getting up and going to work. I wasn't happy. My behavior started to change. I was smoking weed and drinking heavily.

"There was a fun and exciting factor about not getting caught by my wife and family. I enjoyed living life with an edge. I was broke after every pay day and I didn't realize that you could look at a person and see that something was wrong.

"A friend introduced me to it. It was fun for me and I lived for the next hit. As my drug ran out, my fun ran out. It's the same principle with your food. I didn't realize that I had hit rock bottom until I was jobless and homeless."

Then came the worst part, he committed a felony to support his "high"and faced sentencing before a judge. "The judge basically told me that I was participating in killing myself and he was right," he admitted. "He saw my potential and he could have sentenced me to five years of jail time; he didn't. He put me on probation for two years and made me "clean up" my act."

Poole enrolled in Golden Gate Baptist Adult Rehabilitation Ministry in Dallas,Texas. "I learned quickly that if you don't want to be in the drug game, you don't have to be. I wrecked several cars, lost several jobs, and thought about all the money I wasted. My wife had kicked me out of the house. So I finally allowed God into my life. I decided enough was enough."

The 20-year-old ministry has a staff of five as well as volunteers. Poole adds if it wasn't for them, he wouldn't be alive today. "Addiction is the dark side and the dark side can sometimes be sweet. I have to make a choice every day, every hour whether or not to stay clean," he continues. Poole now serves a program volunteer.

"I should have know better. I thought being 'clean' wasn't in the cards for me. I wanted to change my past. My family is on board. My spouse forgave me. I made a commitment to this. Now, I'm doing alright. People have to make their own decisions. For me, its a daily struggle."

If you live in the Dallas area and would like more information or help, please call 1-214-943-5010 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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Sunday, February 20th 2011 at 3:23PM
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