Del Flambouras: From Addiction to Fatherhood, His Testimony from Dessert Fundraiser 2023

I never really knew where I belonged, at an age where most of us are simply trying to feel comfortable in our own skin. The questions I had needed answered in life were easier to pacify with the false security provided by using substances to escape which were always more readily accessible, when compared to the daunting task of seeking a father figure to confide in. I made it to 10th grade before being expelled for carrying an illegal weapon on school grounds, and made one more attempt to graduate at a “last chance” school. By this point in life I began seeing many in my circle dropping out, and the fast life had a firm hold on me. Without having a father figure at home to guide me in the right direction, I followed suit and I dropped out. After this decision, selling drugs had became a means for survival, and using drugs and alcohol was just what we did to pass the time. I very suddenly became a young father at 18, and unfortunately became addicted to opiates around the same time. 

I just couldn’t know what I wasn’t prepared for, not in enough detail to avoid unnecessary suffering at least. Now a young father with no real direction and doing everything possible to hide my addiction, my youngest son was born three years later. I would go on to spend the next decade as a quote-unquote “functioning addict”, appearing on the surface to be doing fine, but slowly dying by the minute, living in perpetual shame for not knowing how to overcome on my own power, or reach out for help 

Having been one-half of a parenting duo consisting of two young broken kids who ran away together and fell in love on the streets, we ended up splitting up. Years later, I fell head-over-heels in love with a woman who did the best that she knew how to love and support me through my addiction, and her father happened to be a founding member of a men’s group called SpoFi. For a few years she, as well as her parents continued to suggest that I give this group a chance. 

Still being in active addiction and not  receptive yet, shortly after I had to suffer through the most painful experience of my life, having to hold the hand of my mother while she left this world due to decades of opiate addiction and their fatal effects to her body. This pushed me towards a rapid downward spiral, a horrific year and a half using the deadly street drug fentanyl, and lord-willing, a long awaited rock bottom. At this juncture having a realization that life-or-death was no longer a proverbial afterthought, but was a cold reality of a future, or lack thereof, I accepted that I could not hide nor escape on my own anymore. 

So I reached out for help, and with the aid of God, an addiction counselor, NA groups, SpoFi, and the support of loved ones, I’m now celebrating over 400 days clean from opiates. When I first showed up to SpoFi I was newly sober, very uncomfortable in my own skin and hadn’t found my voice yet. But having the courage to walk through those doors the first time, was like a divine intervention that changed life for the better in a way that I struggle to find words to describe. More than any wonderful organization I’ve been a part of through this journey, I credit SpoFi with being the biggest anchor to my sobriety. Because finding fellowship with men from all walks of life and hearing about what they were going through, as well as being able to openly share my struggles as a father, changed everything for me. 

I’m proud to say that my children not only now HAVE a dad in their lives, but one who has been given tools to be the most involved and committed version of a father they’ve ever had. A thankful dad who now has a much healthier co-parenting relationship with their mother. I’m proud to say that I’ve gained some lifelong friendships with some amazing men who are just as committed as I am to the being the best version of themselves for their children as well. I’m truly proud to have been blessed with the opportunity to be a part of such an indescribably meaningful organization that has changed the lives of my children and I for the better. If you take anything from my story home with you, I hope it is what our community needs most right now starts right at home, that the change in this world we all long to provide our children with begins with a strong family unit, and a fatherly presence to guide them. Thank you.