Danny Trejo Got Clean in Prison. This L.A. Recovery Center Helped Him Stay that Way

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Whereas spending a lot of the Sixties in jail on drug and theft prices, Danny Trejo managed to turn into a champion boxer at San Quentin—and he kicked heroin. Let out, Trejo stayed clear with the assistance of a brand new dependancy therapy heart in L.A. referred to as CRI-Help. 5 many years later, Trejo has practically 400 performing credit to his title and remains to be working with the group to assist different individuals get sober, together with his personal kids. Now, as CRI-Assist will get set to have a good time its 50th anniversary in Could, Trejo spoke with Los Angeles about his lengthy relationship with the non-profit, and why the pandemic could also be “the most effective rattling time” to work on restoration. Trejo shall be an honored visitor and the primary speaker at a gala deliberate for the autumn; there shall be a digital occasion in Could.


How did you first discover CRI-Assist?

I bought clear within the pen. I did ten years. In 1968, I bought clear, and I stayed clear up till 1969 after they let me out. There was a spot that CRI-Assist was born from referred to as Reprieve Home and, for me, being an addict and being recent out of the penitentiary, hanging out at a restoration home was nice. I bought to fulfill individuals who have been clear, you realize what I imply? I used to be hanging out at a restoration heart the place everyone was making an attempt to remain clear.

Then when Reprieve Home closed they opened CRI-Assist. At the moment if you happen to had a automotive you could possibly go and choose up some guys and take them to a gathering—and even [CRI-Help CEO] Jack Bernstein was [doing it] again then. He was a godsend. He’s bought a particular place in heaven, shit. He’s an incredible man, he’s helped lots of people, a variety of destitute those that I labored with, and guys that have been simply popping out of the pen and shit, and he was all the time like, “Yeah, yeah, convey them down. We’ll get them in.”

 With all of the locations to attempt to get clear round L.A., what’s particular about CRI-Assist?

I really like CRI-Assist. it’s all the time been on the prime of my listing so far as individuals who I take into rehab, and so they appear to have extra success. Now, any rehab is sweet, you perceive. If anyone’s going to rehab, thank God they’re going to rehab. Good, dangerous, or detached, they’re no less than interested by rehab. CRI-Assist simply occurs to have probably the greatest success charges.

I’ve used all of them. I imply, I’ve had millionaires say, “No, no I’ve to go to Malibu.” And so, they do this, spend [thousands of] {dollars} for eight months or one thing and, you realize, typically it really works, typically it doesn’t. However the most effective success charge I’ve had has been with CRI-Assist. Typically you may get a free mattress. They’re extra various.

You additionally took your youngsters there?

My dependancy was heroin and so was theirs. I took my son [Gilbert, 32]. My son detoxed in CRI-Assist, thank God, and he’s bought six years clear proper now. Lots of people don’t make it the primary time. My son was a hardhead, however he began his rehab at CRI-Assist. My son was like a bit of star and everyone fucking knew him, and so he had lots individuals coming by, and CRI-Assist tried to maintain him out and stuff, however lastly he simply cut up and began utilizing once more. However that bought him the inspiration. That’s what they’re good at—supplying you with a basis.

So whether or not you make it or not, you’ve bought that basis. And when you undergo CRI-Assist, it ruins your utilizing.

How does it spoil your utilizing?

As a result of it’s such as you’ll run into individuals that you just have been in CRI-Assist with and so they’ll begin speaking about how nice it was—and, you realize, you’re ready for a connection. After which, even whenever you begin getting depressed, that’s what you consider. What a drag, however that’s what you consider. You assume, “Wow, I keep in mind how good I felt after I was there.”

What occurred along with your daughter?

My daughter [Michelle, 30] nearly died. I used to be in Germany. Thank God her mother and my secretary took her to CRI-Assist. She completed this system at CRI-Assist and he or she’s bought seven years now. [My kids] bought clear and so they’re doing bitchin’.

What do you inform individuals who say the pandemic isn’t a great time for rehab?

Effectively, I gotta say that proper now might be the most effective rattling time to get clear as a result of it’s so onerous to maneuver round and also you’re locked up. So if you happen to don’t bought dope, you ain’t getting none, so detox and CRI-Assist are like the most effective issues going.

“You’ve gotta keep in mind, the factor about CRI-Assistance is that they maintain individuals transferring.”

What do you say to individuals who really feel like they’re climbing the partitions?

You’ve gotta keep in mind, the factor about CRI-Assistance is that they maintain individuals transferring. In case you maintain individuals in group and maintain them transferring and doing stuff, they don’t have time to begin interested by, “Woe is me,” and, “What am I doing right here?”

How does CRI-Assist maintain them transferring through the pandemic?

Persons are nonetheless doing actions within the facility, on the grounds. You don’t need to cease strolling. Your group, you’re all the time with them, everyone will get examined. Proper now the one individuals I affiliate with are the individuals which might be with me on a regular basis.

They’ve bought a variety of stuff to do there. You’ve bought to go to group. You’ve bought to take part. You’ve bought to take part in all the things. That’s the one factor about dope fiends: They’re not actual participators.

[A note from CRI-Help: CRI-Help remains fully operational during the pandemic with regular COVID testing for clients and staff, PCR testing and a quarantine period for new residents, individual and small group therapy, telehealth services for family therapy, socially distanced outdoor recreation activities (eg. cornhole and access to basketball hoops), and access to virtual 12-Step self help meetings.]

How has the pandemic affected your skilled life?

I work on a regular basis. God, let me see. Two weeks in the past I used to be a cartel member, then after that I used to be a sailor, then after that I used to be a vampire, then I used to be a cartoon character, then I used to be a cartel member once more.

I do a variety of Cameos, too. That’s enjoyable, I really like that. I can do them proper from house. “Hello! I’m Danny and your husband Bob desires to want you a contented, pleased New 12 months and thanks for being such an incredible spouse! “

Thank God they pay me. So I’m nonetheless retaining busy.

What are the brand new guidelines on set?

Effectively, after I’m on the set, everyone that comes on the set has been examined. They check you earlier than and so they take your temperature. So, you realize, it’s like our fantastic Governor Newsom and our lovely Mayor Garcetti… It’s like, you’ve bought to put on a masks, social distance, be examined, and also you’re protected. It’s like proper now there’s a pandemic for all of the fools who don’t wanna put on a masks. Shit, I put on gloves and a masks after I contact myself.

If the world had been like 2020 whenever you bought sober, do you assume you’ll have made it?

I bought clear within the pen and after I got here out, like I stated, I thank God that I had a spot to hang around and go to conferences and meet some individuals. And, God, I’ve liked Jack since he bought clear. So I had mates. And, you realize, a drug addict—you by no means actually have mates for any size of time as a result of they both go to jail or die. And now, you realize, I’ve had these mates for 50 years, for 30 years, and I believe that’s one of many issues that basically helped me—the fellowship.

And that’s the factor about CRI-Assist. My daughter nonetheless retains in contact together with her counselor at CRI-Assist and he or she has been out of CRI-Assist for seven years. …

I simply love CRI-Assist as a result of CRI-Assist doesn’t have a look at your checking account coming in. You can be on Medical, thank God.

So anyone can get assist at CRI-Assist?

Completely. That’s the primary place I’d take anyone. I don’t care how a lot cash they’ve—Increase! Let’s go! As a result of no less than, even if you happen to don’t keep clear, what they offer you is that basis. That’s what occurred to my son. As soon as he left he stated, “Fuck, I can’t cease interested by the individuals I met and what they have been saying.”

So, thank God.

CRI-Assist asks that anybody looking for therapy ought to go to cri-help.org/fight to get began.


RELATED: A New Documentary Goes Inside Danny Trejo’s ‘Crazy’ Transformation


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