Spotlight on Victor Ortega
Victor Ortega is PAX House’s Clinical Director of Outpatient Services. Victor has been part of the PAX family since 2012. He began working initially as an intern and working his way up to group facilitator, lead counselor, supervisor and now director.
Victor earned his Bachelor’s degree in Behavioral Science from the University of La Verne. Victor is happily married with a daughter. Outside of work, Victor enjoys spending time with his family, hiking and watching his LA Lakers.
Victor’s passion for working with people suffering from addiction stems from his own journey to recovery. Here is his story.
Victor Ortega grew up in Rowland Heights, CA. A city about 30 miles east of Los Angeles. He grew up in a typical working-class family with 3 other siblings. Like many teenagers, Victor began experimenting with drugs and alcohol with his high school friends. At that time, Victor didn’t realize how his home environment really affected him. His household was filled with violence, fear, and anxiety.
There was a lot of fighting, screaming and yelling at home. Victor learned to be prepared for the dynamic to change from peaceful to completely chaotic and violent at any moment within his family. This was his norm.
When Victor began experimenting with drugs and alcohol, he saw that it quieted the screaming that was happening around him and eased his anxiety. By the time he was 18, he was drinking and/or using drugs every day. This continued on for the next 20 years. Victor did not have one particular drug he preferred as he preferred them all.
Victor was able to maintain a job, relationships with friends, family and significant others while he was using. Since he suffered no consequences such as getting DUIs or getting fired, no one really saw him as having a problem. He didn’t see himself as having a problem. He was the ultimate functioning addict. Until he wasn’t.
As Victor continued to use more and more, his character and integrity began to deteriorate. He began to lie and deceive people close to him. He would drive drunk or high with no regard to how he could hurt other drivers on the road; he lied to fiancée about his drinking habits. He betrayed his best friend by having an affair with his wife. His health began to decline.
After years of self-destructive and selfish behaviors, Victor finally realized he could no longer run from his demons.
Not Just Another Thanksgiving
On Friday after Thanksgiving in 2008, after a wild night of partying Victor got caught with the woman he was having an affair with by her husband. When he was confronted, Victor did what he always did—run. He ended up at a motel and woke up the next morning bruised, battered, humiliated and shameful.
He decided that day that he had to make a change. He went home and asked his brother for help. Victor’s brother had 16 years of sobriety under his belt and he took Victor to an AA meeting that evening. Victor went into that first meeting feeling very scared and hopeless. He sat there and listened to 4 people share their stories. Within each person’s story, there was hope. Victor thought, “Maybe that could be me.”
When someone is new to recovery, it’s recommended that they attend 90 meetings in 90 days. Victor attended 180 meetings in 90 days. He found safety, hope and love within those rooms. Without question, he followed all the steps he needed to make to get and stay sober.
Since that fateful Thanksgiving weekend, Victor has not taken one drink, puff or hit of any substance. Thanksgiving 2019 will mark his 11th year of sobriety.
Victor has been at the mercy of his addiction but has come out the other side with a new lease on life. He continues to work on his sobriety every single day. Giving back and being of service to others helps him maintain his sobriety. Victor offers hope and healing to those afflicted by the disease of addiction. He has been at rock bottom, feeling hopeless and alone. He is a true testament that recovery and hope is possible.
If you or someone you love needs help and is feeling hopeless, know that you are not alone. Help is here for you.
Call PAX Recovery House today to talk to Victor or another PAX counselor about how you can get help. Call (877) 837-4289