Creating Freedom Video Series – John Morgan

Watch John, one of our Adult Outpatient Counselors, share his incredible journey to recovery. John’s story is just one of many that prove that with hope and hard work, recovery is possible. Help us continue to transform lives like John’s and make his story possible for countless others.


My name is John Morgan and I have been working at De Paul since April of 2012. I am an outpatient counselor here, basically I specialize in the DCJ population which is the department of Community Justice. I love to come to work, I miss work when I am not here, and it’s an amazing thing, especially if I look at where I came from.

For me my journey started about nine years old, when my step-dad gave me a joint, or two joints, because he smoked marijuana, and I sold one and smoked one. So at nine years old I was a drug dealer and a drug user. And shortly thereafter I became involved in criminality with the local kids that were older than me and that journey took me to several different boys’ homes, Edgefield Manor for Children, Bear Creek Ranch for Boys, into foster care because I was taken away from my parents, so just this constant battle, Donald E. Long Home several times, that’s the juvenile detention hall here in Portland Oregon.

I grew up in a household with bikers and drug dealers and things like that so it wasn’t far fetched that that’s where I would end up. Everything I did was about getting more cocaine. I did things that were against my morals, values, and beliefs. Whenever I am in my active addiction I am not the same person I am today which is a loving, caring person, who cares about people and wants to do the right thing. When I’m in my addiction all bets are off, I’m on this rampage to get my fix.

So I have been to prison three times, and all three times I have been to the intense nine or ten month inpatient treatment program every time. The ‘aha’ moment for me was I was at OSP, the Oregon State Penitentiary, and I was walking down C-block on tier two, to cell 237, and ten years prior, literally almost to the day, I had been in cell 235, and I was walking by that cell and I realized that, literally I’m getting goose bumps thinking about it, nothing had transpired in my life, nothing had happened in my life in ten years I was in the exact same spot and I realized at that point in time that it was my responsibility.

So my sponsor said go volunteer at the Oregon Food Bank, go volunteer at VOA, go be of service to the community to help give back for all the things you have taken, and I did that and it changed the whole way that I thought and felt about myself.

I specifically like to deal with people who have criminal elements in their history or facing going to prison because I feel like I understand them, I know what they are going through, I know how traumatic it is, I know how hard it is to break that cycle.

It’s just amazing that we can do this, you know, and we need to do it, that’s really the message “we need to do it” and I fought against that so hard for so long and now that’s all I ever say is find somebody in your life, find some people to support you and this is it, this is how we do it.