Addiction Recovery Profile: Raul Maurice
It was toward the end of January 2019, when Raul Maurice walked around Martin County, Fla., practically destitute and seemingly hopeless. Using some of the money his half-sister had sent him, he checked into a hotel and stood out on the balcony basking in the night’s air. He was breathing it in deeper than ever before. After all, it had been nearly two years since he had seen the stars.
He didn’t really know what his next move would be. He didn’t know what his life would look like now. And he didn’t know who to turn to. The immediate family he grew up with, his parents and sister, had all passed away by the time he was 28. He had pushed away many of his childhood friends. And aside from his older half-siblings from his father’s first marriage, no one really knew where he had been for the last couple years. Maurice knew one thing, though: He was free.
But while he was free to start anew, he was not necessarily free from a destructive past he left behind.
Snapping out of his reverie, a woman sitting on the balcony next to his, spoke to him. Through a developing conversation, he explained where he’d been.
For the last 20 months, Maurice had spent his days behind bars. An eventual consequence of not only dealing drugs but becoming addicted to them. And while he was rather successful at selling prescription pills on the street – making nearly $200 thousand a year – he developed a debilitating substance use disorder, aggressively escalating from taking opioids to injecting them. Even after two overdoses, even after waking up in the hospital to a doctor telling Maurice he would die if he continued this path, he would still get high.
It was just a routine traffic stop that landed him in that jail cell for those 20 months.
On June 6, 2017, Maurice was pulled over, probably for not wearing his seatbelt, he vaguely recalls. Irrelevant really, since it turns out he was driving with a suspended license, had drug paraphernalia on him, and was out on bond for dealing in stolen property and false information to a pawnbroker just two weeks prior.
So Maurice was sentenced to jail, and while he was there, he reflected and read. A lot. Specifically two books: Alcoholics Anonymous and the Bible. The latter of which, he never put down. And so, he resurrected a relationship with God and fervently prayed for a lifestyle change that was a far cry from the one he once knew.
But Maurice’s life wasn’t always riddled with addiction. Unlike people who are afflicted by it, his life was rooted in normalcy and devoid of trauma. He grew up in a loving home, where all his needs were met, and neither drugs nor alcohol were a problem.
But there were some red flags. A pattern of destructive behavior that led to his downfall.
After losing his father at 21 years old, Maurice immersed himself heavily into the night scene. He befriended a guy, who had unlimited funds, and Maurice became his best friend and sort of built-in bodyguard. Maurice’s larger frame is that of someone you would not want to mess with.
Together, they partied hard. Drinking six nights a week, travelling all over the world, and becoming local celebrities at the bars, for they were always buying drinks. It was an impetuous lifestyle that led him to live in Texas for about a year and a half when he was around 23 years old. There, selling cocaine, was his first brush with drug dealing.
Maurice eventually moved back to Florida, where he spent his time between Orlando and Port St. Lucie. Upon losing his sister – due to sickle cell anemia complications – and then his mom in September 2008, Maurice adopted a new mindset.
“I thought, well, I didn’t have anyone to cry for me anymore,” Maurice, 39, says. “My immediate family … they were all in a graveyard in Stuart.”
So with the money and properties Maurice inherited, his recklessness increased. His drinking took on new levels of excess. But after kicking in a stranger’s car window one evening, he quit drinking cold turkey. And by 2009 started selling prescription pills instead.
Maurice would target anyone he knew had a script and a drug problem. He would offer to pay their doctor appointments and to fill their prescriptions. And, in turn, they would pay him back the investment, by selling Maurice the pills at $10 a pop. Maurice would then sell them on the street for $25 each. He was running a successful operation, using anywhere from 20 to 30 people a month.
“I took part in a very corrupt business and became very good at it,” he says.
From 2010 to 2013, he was in the thick of it and thriving. He even opened a couple of legitimate businesses including a moving company, to cover the influx of money that was coming in.
Maurice had traded in his obsession with drinking and social status at bars for an obsession with money and control.
“I used to prey on people that got a lawsuit settlement, or inherited property or money. I want every piece of it,” Maurice said. “That’s how manipulative and sick I was.”
On April 2, 2013, after an 8-month long investigation, wiretapping and 45 co-defendants, Maurice’s kingpin came crashing down. He was charged with racketeering, conspiracy to traffic, conspiracy to sell and unlawful use of a two-way communication device. He was facing 90 years.
Maurice was stripped of everything: the money, the drugs and his valued possessions. He was stripped of his trophies. Stripped of his identity. Even his girlfriend, who was an addict, was also arrested.
A quarter of a $1 million bond later, depression set in.
“A lot of my persona was built off of money,” Maurice says. “My reassurance and confidence came from having always a couple grand in my pocket.”
So Maurice turned to the same pills he sold. And the same girlfriend he once asked to keep a needle out of her arm, became the same girlfriend he asked to put a needle in his arm.
After 17 months, the amount of time it took for his case to get in front of a judge, he was deep into his addiction. And since he still had a prescription, Maurice was still selling. But now he had an eviscerating drug problem, and was stuck in between a twisted balance of maintaining his addiction and paying the bills.
The former prevailed, however. Both his power and water were shut off, and eating became secondary to getting high. His opiate use evolved into smoking and injecting anything he could get his hands on, including crack, fentanyl and heroin.
Eventually, he and his girlfriend of 8 years broke up and he was virtually homeless, couch surfing wherever he could. Maurice was a mess, but yet he still thought he could get back on his feet if he just kept selling.
And then on June 6, 2017, the final arrest happened.
So there, on the balcony inside a Martin County hotel, Maurice spoke to this woman. And at the end of it, she surprised him by giving him a phone and adding it to her family plan. This act of kindness was the first of many blessings Maurice would receive on his journey to redemption.
With the phone connected, Maurice was able to reach out to a childhood friend, Billy, who had also battled his own addiction and was now sober. Billy took him to his house, spent $3 thousand on a new wardrobe for Maurice, paid his first month’s rent at a halfway house, and urged him to seek help.
Being a very headstrong person, it’s not the easiest of tasks for Maurice to surrender his will. Luckily, prison groomed him to relinquish control and Maurice did as he was told.
He joined a 12-step program and secured a sponsor. Having gone to meetings for the last 30 years, his sponsor took Maurice through each step, thoroughly. He gave him a series of self-reflecting homework, where Maurice learned a lot about himself, learned what he did wrong and learned how to heal.
Not necessarily having an alcohol problem, Maurice was nervous that perhaps the program was not the right fit, but while he didn’t identify with alcoholism, per se, he did identify with the stories shared and the guidance given.
“People that want to run their own recovery are always setting up for failure,” Maurice says.
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Maurice began to rise from his own mountain of disease-ridden ash. He knew he wanted to work in recovery. So he did his research, spoke to people in the industry and sought accreditation for peer counselling. Eventually, Maurice began an internship at a rehab center in Vero Beach, Fla., where after two weeks he was offered a position as Outreach Coordinator.
Maurice continues to work in the industry, and as of 2021, he is a Treatment Representative at Delphi Behavioral Health Group.
There isn’t a day that goes by that Maurice does not reflect on how he’s doing. To him, it’s vital he takes personal inventory, nixing anything that is not positive toward his recovery. He stays in constant contact with his sponsor. And continues to be open-minded, willing and grateful, hoping his life can be a testament to what recovery can look like for others.
“What I see now is that God has taken my life and he’s doing something with it,” Maurice says. “What I do now feels purposeful.”