Rich Santana’s journey to recovery

Rich started his journey to recovery in 2009. In his words, he had a “reckless life” where a close scare with HIV caused him to live in agony and doubt. It was through a combination of The Change Companies’ RDAP curriculum, the structure of the program and personal spiritual growth that helped him transform his life for the better and positively influence others in their journeys.

During his incarceration, Rich had the opportunity to participate in RDAP. In a selective process with 200 other inmates, Rich’s redemptive efforts led him to become a senior mentor in the program. What started as a simple incentive became the cornerstone of his behavioral transformation. 

Reflecting on the memories of his time in prison, Rich spoke of how his Journals, faith and stewardship as a mentor gave him a network of support and accountability, encouraged him to find the inward desire to change and helped him improve his thinking by challenging negative self-talk. 

His Journals are still with him today. His favorite is Rational Thinking (now The ABCs of Thinking and Rational Self-Counseling), which taught him how to complete a Rational Self-Analysis and challenge unhelpful thoughts in the moment. Rich credits these resources for providing the structure to make these constructive behaviors into a habit.

After Rich reentered the community, he met his wife and married in 2013. He reflects with gratitude, seeing how he matured during his time behind bars. If it wasn’t for that time, he would not have caught the eye of his now-wife. She took notice of him after Rich and a few others (including his wife) took an emotional intelligence test. Rich outscored them all, drawing attention and – without hesitation – explaining how he had developed that self-awareness and emotional well-being during his incarceration.

Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” – Francis Chan

Rich continues his desire to help others in recovery today by volunteering at his local church and a halfway house in San Diego, California, to help others get back on their feet while keeping humble about his origins.