At just 16 years old, Michael Fowler had a promising future ahead of him, but felt something was missing.
A star tennis player with scholarship offers, the Preston Hollow native was feeling pressure from his parents and wanted a way to relax.
“One day I decided I wanted a break and I wanted to try and go out with the guys,” he said. “I had heard all these stories about parties and things like that, and so I made the decision that I wanted to try something.”
The first drug Fowler ever tried was cocaine. From that moment on, he only wanted more.
“Once I tried cocaine, my life was completely different,” he said.
Fowler spent years in and out of treatment centers but always fell back into his old habits. Fowler lived out of a car and homeless shelters. He even worked as a car salesman to earn money for the drugs.
His stepfather, Alan White, told his then-30-year-old to get it together.
“I was just as sick of me as everyone else was,” Fowler said.
When Fowler’s psychologist told the family he had a 10 percent chance of living, White, the CEO of PlainsCapital Bank, knew tough love was the only way.
Nine years later, Fowler is sober and a counselor at Caron Texas, an alcohol and drug addiction treatment center in Princeton, Texas.
“He defied all odds. He did it himself,” White said. “They’ve got to get down far enough that they’ve got to do it themselves.”
Fowler now helps other addicts and their families struggling with the same things he did nearly a decade ago.
“I’m really blessed in making that connection with people who are suffering,” he said. “I get it because I’ve been there. I’ve experienced what they’ve gone through.”
Fowler is a part of interventions at Caron Texas, and said they can be intense and sometimes traumatic.
White said it’s exactly how Fowler should be giving back to society.
“He’s giving back to society something he learned a hard lesson from,” White said, “and there’s a great deal of satisfaction for him in doing that. Everybody’s got to find a place in life where they give back and get satisfaction out of what you’re doing.”
Caron Texas now hosts a special treatment program for young adults, ages 18 to 26, because of their different needs than those of older patients.
“You are not alone,” Fowler said. “If you feel like there’s no hope, there is hope. And if I can do it, anybody can do it.”
This story appears in the July issue of Preston Hollow People, on stands now.