CADA to Feature Danny Trejo
Sharing the miracle of recovery, saving lives
Cult horror film and animated comedy fans, unite! Danny Trejo is coming to Bossier City’s CenturyLink Center as the keynote speaker for CADA’s 61st Annual Dinner on Oct. 9. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the program begins at 6:30.
If you’re the kind of person that lives by first impressions, you might think Danny is one loco hombre – and a preliminary look at the film roles that made him famous does nothing to dispel that notion: “Machete,” “From Dusk
’Till Dawn,” “Sons of Anarchy” and “Breaking Bad” lead the list. But if you bother to dig a little deeper, you’ll find Trejo has also done voiceovers in animation, such as “King of the Hill,” “American Dad,” “Rick and Morty” and G-rated entertainment such as “The Adventures of Puss in Boots” and “Storks.” His work in kids’ movies such as “Spy Kids” and the recently released “Dora and the Lost City of Gold,” where Trejo does the voice over for Boots, the adorable little CGI monkey, has broadened his fan base to include all ages. His celebrity has been used to sell everything from cars to cable TV to Snickers bars.
I wouldn’t judge Trejo by the fact that he spent his early years in prison, either. As a child, Trejo struggled with addiction that resulted in 11 years in and out of prison on armed robbery and drug charges. While in San Quentin, he won both lightweight and welterweight prison boxing titles and successfully completed a rehab program that changed his life.
“The reality is, in 1968, I was on my way to the gas chamber,” Trejo said. “Today, I’ve been given so many incredible gifts, and I owe a debt. The blessing that this film business has given me is that when I walk into a school, I automatically have everyone’s attention. They want to hear what the guy from ‘Con Air’ and ‘Desperado’ has to say.”
To this day, Danny Trejo has been sober for over 50 years and has kept his credentialing as a crisis counselor. He spends every day looking for an opportunity to pay it forward helping those with substance use disorders. “Alcohol and drugs will ruin your life,” he said, “and education is the key to anything that you want to do.”
Danny’s early story is not all that different from thousands of people right here in Louisiana who have chosen the path of recovery over a life of self-destructive behavior. CADA’s executive director Bill Rose has also been down that path and, like Trejo, uses his experience to help others. “At CADA, we don’t label your behavior,” Rose said. “We get to the whys. We shine the light on the way people feel.”
CADA has 15 successful recovery programs in four facilities in Shreveport and Bossier City and on the road in nine parishes. Those programs include residential and outpatient services, and both high-intensity and low-intensity treatment. “CADA is one of the only providers in Louisiana to treat pregnant women, and we also treat women with dependent children up to 12 years of age, and teens 12-17 at our adolescent treatment facility,” Rose said.
CADA was the first organization in Louisiana to get a Crisis Outreach Team up and out on the streets, reaching out to those who need opioid-specific treatment in rural under-insured and underserved areas and getting them admitted to the appropriate recovery programs. The team also educates health-care professionals, educators, law enforcement and parents with relevant, evidence-based information. “The COT distributes NARCAN, a nasal spray that saves the lives of overdose victims, and Dispose Rx packets that are used to dissolve unwanted meds so they won’t fall into the wrong hands,” Rose said.
Trejo also spends a lot of time talking about the need for education when it comes to drug prevention. “I honestly believe that we need to start talking to kids about drugs and alcohol at a much earlier age,” he said. “Who do you think they’re targeting with these drugs these days? I know my mom doesn’t want to smoke strawberry banana vapes. They’re targeting children, and it’s so sad.”
Trejo also believes in treating addiction by treating the whole family. “If your son or daughter is using, you should be seeking support as well,” he said.
CADA is there for families, providing a safe environment for family members of those struggling with drugs or alcohol through its Tootsie Davis Family Education Program. The program is free and includes a meal and child care to remove as many barriers as possible that would keep people from getting the help they need. The monthly meetings begin with a brief educational topic that varies each month, then shifts to a support/discussion group.
“We have committed a significant amount of staff and resources to delivering the message about the role prevention and education play in any good recovery movement,” Rose said. “CADA has gladly taken the lead role in educating the community on the dangers of substance use disorders, from families to the criminal justice system, to members of the medical profession and legislators at every level.”
“We’re also creating opportunities for discussion and real conversation, where people are presented with evidence-based information, then get to ask questions and share ideas,” Rose said. “We have to keep creating these opportunities for dialogue.”
Perhaps the biggest challenge to people getting the treatment they need is stigma – the judgment by some who have never struggled in that way. The staff at CADA is surrounded by people every day, professionally and personally, who have pulled themselves from depths of addiction to a life of recovery and hope. Recovering addicts have been to Hell and back and have come out on the other side, seeing the world in a new light. That doesn’t mean they have all the answers, but they come out with tools they need to make it through each day. They also leave CADA programs surrounded by a network of former clients called CADA Connection. The group helps each other stay on track and gives back to the community by helping others.
Danny Trejo knows the struggle, and he’s thankful. “A bad day for me is different from a bad day for most people,” he said. “A bad day, in the context of my life, is I’m back in San Quentin, and the guards are shooting at me. These days, when God sees fit to send me a good day, I just have to stay out of His way. Every day that I wake up and I’m free from addiction and alcohol, I’m living the miracle of recovery.”
You can get help and information or purchase tickets or tables to hear Danny Trejo speak at CADA’s Annual Dinner at www.cadanwla.org, or by calling (318) 222-8511.