Sixteen years ago, when Steve Reynolds was 14, he took his first swig of beer and plunged head first into a murky life gripped by drugs and alcohol.
In the thick of it, he couldn't imagine a day without getting high or getting drunk. His sun rose with his first joint and set with the drink that made him pass out.
He went on like that -- drinking away his teens, toking away his 20s. Then, one day, when he was a couple of years shy of his 30th birthday, he sank through the pain and the parties and the madness, and he hit bottom with a sobering thud.
From that lowly vantage point on the rock-hard edge of reality, Reynolds started looking for a lifeline. He found it at a treatment center in the Valley and a halfway house in Mesa.
He sobered up at the treatment center and learned how to stay that way at the halfway house.
Now, after reclaiming his life and living clean for a year and a half, he's throwing a lifeline out to other men struggling with drug addiction and alcoholism.
Last week in Payson, he opened Goodfellow House, a transitional home for men recovering from alcoholism and drug addiction.
"There are a lot of people that just don't know that there's a way out," he said. "That's what we want to do -- show them that there's a way out of their addiction and that there's a life out there."
Reynolds spent part of his savings renovating the four-bedroom house on South Goodfellow Road, and he opened it last week with two clients and a live-in manager, Art Cridebring, who has been a recovering alcoholic for eight years.
The house, which is licensed by the town as a group home, can accommodate six clients, and it features a living room, kitchen and laundry room.
"Recovering addicts need a sober living environment to live in where they can learn to see the world in a new way," Cridebring said. "This is a transitional place to help people get back on their feet and back into the world again."
Goodfellow House doesn't provide counseling, but its clients are required by their rental agreements to attend daily 12-step recovery meetings and are encouraged to seek private counseling.
Clients pay $75 a week for rent and utilities, and must provide their own meals.
"We believe being responsible for yourself is a large part of staying sober," said Cridebring, who was an alcoholic for 20 years.
Goodfellow clients are required to abide by a set of rules that include staying away from drugs and alcohol, getting and maintaining a job, and being willing to ask for help and being willing to give it.
Reynolds and Cridebring said they will use observation and random drug testing to monitor their clients and maintain a sober living environment, which they believe is key to recovery.
Cridebring said he owes his own recovery to living with people dedicated to staying sober.
"I found myself laying in the hospital in Payson, dying from alcohol," he said. "That prompted my family to do an intervention. They sent me to a de-tox center in the Valley and from there, I went to a halfway house. That sober living environment helped me learn to live life without alcohol."
For more information about Goodfellow House, call Cridebring at 472-8608.