Robert Harper: Overcoming alcohol, cocaine at Skid Row's Midnight Mission

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Robert Harper, 47, says he hit rock bottom about a year ago. He was a talented bass guitarist who had been addicted to alcohol and cocaine for more than two decades. Last Sunday, Harper graduated from a year-long drug and alcohol program at the Midnight Mission in L.A.'s Skid Row.

Harper said his long road to getting clean began when he lost his job, his home and $1,600 he won on a TV game show. He said it wasn’t long before he found himself living on the streets of Skid Row in Los Angeles.

“I’ve been to a couple recovery treatment centers before — didn’t finish ‘em,” he said. “I never said I had a problem. I just said, ‘Let me go in here and dry out and go back to work and everything’s going to be OK and forget about what I did and move on.’ That wasn’t the case.”

Harper said he’s transitioning into a better life. On Dec. 4, he graduated with 96 others from the Los Angeles Midnight Mission’s year-long Drug and Alcohol Recovery program. Harper said he can still remember his first day of treatment.

“I was laying in the bed balled up in the fetal position, crying,” he said. “Just the shame and the anguish and the depressed feelings of the disappointment of all the dreams and goals I had in life.”

The Midnight Mission assigned Harper a sponsor who introduced him to the Alcoholics Anonymous program. Harper said it took about three months of counseling sessions before he started to feel hopeful for his future.

“I started lifting my head and walking a little different and feeling a little better about myself,” he said. “It’s not over. I just thank God for bringing me this far. I stay humble and grateful today.”

Harper said he will continue to live at the Midnight Mission for a few months to save money while he looks for a place to live. He is taking college classes at night to become a drug and alcohol counselor. In his spare time, Harper said he plans to play some funk and jazz gigs with his electric bass guitar.

To listen to Steve Julian’s interview with Robert Harper and hear a clip of Harper's music, click here.

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