There are times, moments, events and factors that affect one’s life, from despair to victory. The best way to approach this is one day at a time, neither totally up nor totally down.
I recently interviewed Drew Martin of Philadelphia, or “Drew Ma,” as his friends refer to him as. We have known each other for about six years and are good friends. All the days we have known each other have built up to a strong knowing of what it takes to continue on the path of self-fulfillment in life.
As Drew spoke, I listened intently to find the meaning behind his words. What does it take for a man who is prone to anger and deep depression with suicidal thoughts to change his thought processes to a more peaceful, loving way?
Drew’s story began in high school. It was that of an all-American, good family, good grades and a strong desire to excel in wrestling. He did what he thought was right, working hard, eating right and hanging out with his buddies. This is what high school students do. He was living the life, with no major drama. It was the story of so many high school students, to work hard and get good grades and then to go to college, where all the fun begins. For lots of students, college is about drinking, plain and simple. That is what Drew did. He went to Kent State and spent his time drinking on the weekends. Unfortunately, the weekend drinking led to two incidents that were out of control, and Drew was forced to leave Kent State before finishing his degree.
Drew understood the rules following his dismissal from Kent State. He knew he made a mistake and had to start over on a new path. He was driven to succeed. Drew had to fight off the demons like a black cloud that always wanted to darken his shining light. He enrolled in a two-year program at Montgomery County Community College in Southeastern Pennsylvania, in the Philadelphia suburbs. He was focused on attending East Stroudsburg to complete his degree.
As days become nights, nights become days. Drew got a job at UPS when he turned 21. His life took another turn at this point. He added marijuana usage to his heavy drinking patterns. The question to all of this: For what reason? Is there a hidden hope with every puff of marijuana and every sip of an alcoholic drink? Whatever it offered, Drew wanted it. He believed the marijuana mellowed him out and lessened his anger, allowing his mood to be better.
Drew had an obsession with excellence and being the best at whatever he desired. What he knew back then was that drugs were his only hope. With this mindset, he began taking more drugs, including steroids, mushrooms, cocaine, pills and more alcoholic beverages and marijuana. I listened to him intently as he told me all this, trying to figure out the turning point. What change was it that caused him to give up substance use? Drew shared that he learned that most disease is caused by dietary choices. He chose to become vegan, abandoning meat, dairy and egg consumption. He came to a conclusion that the drugs he was taking in such large quantities were not good for his body. All of these choices—involving food and drugs—were very closely linked in his mind.
In today’s society, being vegan is still considered weird and unpopular. Drew firmly believes in no killing or eating of any animals. What was strange about his vegan lifestyle change was his continued usage of alcohol and marijuana. This possibly made the lifestyle more socially acceptable to him. He literally became obsessed with alcohol and marijuana. Initially, they were his mood boosters. After six years of heavy alcohol and marijuana usage, costing him about $500 per month, Drew became deeply depressed. He was borderline suicidal, in total pain and barely functional.
It was at this point, on July 21, 2015, when he really reconnected with his truest desires in life. Drew had began hanging out at my café lots for about two to three months. He came in and stayed mostly to himself or just chilling with his friends. For whatever reason, I took a deep look at him. Drew, who was just 28 years old at the time, appeared to be 45 and whose better years were long behind him. We began talking about life, and I felt his energy. He was angry and sorrowful. I also saw the other side, where light was shining. I saw in his personality the champion of the past and his potential future. It was on this note—from what I know about life, fruit and what you eat or drink and how these ingestion choices affect every cell in the body—I offered Drew a deal he could not refuse.
The previous night, I had a dream about him, about his glory and about him coming from a place of abundance. He just needed some help, a small push. What he needed, I could offer him for free. I offered Drew 10 days of free green smoothies in an old whiskey bottle. There was a small obligation: He had to remain sober for those 10 days. Drew accepted the deal. He was literally a beaten man with nothing to lose.
A fitness instructor and former wrestler, Drew was not totally prepared to face his toughest opponent: himself. “Those 10 days were the hardest days of my life,” he said. He was experiencing a double withdrawal: from alcohol, to which he had been addicted for about seven years, and from marijuana, to which he had been addicted for six years. Together, the withdrawal symptoms manhandled him. He felt as if he was in a slow death with no hope. The green smoothies gave him his lifeboat. My café gave him the support he needed. His goal of becoming Philadelphia’s finest fitness instructor gave him the every-moment drive to rebuild his life and become sober.
In those 10 days that Drew was sober, he dealt with screaming, crying and unbelievable amounts of pain and darkness. Every moment of this time was challenging to him. These were just the first 10 days. As he was in the moment of resisting his urge to drink and knowing he had a good chance of defeating the darkness of deep depression, he continued on. Drew came into my store each of those 10 days to get three free small green smoothies. What I didn’t mention is that as each day passed, I began seeing his light replace the pain and anger that guided his every moment. At the end of the 10 days, he began to realize that marijuana is superaddictive and superdestructive.
Watch Arnold Kauffman Interview Drew Martin at Drew Ma Fitness about his Raw Food Journey
Drew continued, adding one day at a time to his green smoothie healing path. He stuck to this path, with fruit as his source of healing. He added kombucha to help with his digestion. He ate primarily cooked vegan foods, and excess weight came off by switching to a mostly raw vegan lifestyle. There is less energy spent on digestion by eating raw vegan foods, thus giving the body energy to heal. For Drew, it was well worth the effort to be mostly raw vegan. He had experienced so many physical and mental improvements, and dramatic weight loss was a price he was willing to pay.
Nine months later, today, Drew is still sober and is doing excellent! His depression is almost gone. He no longer has suicidal thoughts. He no longer has stomach issues. All these issues are gone, thanks to his successful transformation to being mostly raw vegan, with a focus of 60 to 80 percent of his calories on fruit. Drew shares that even though the experience was excruciating and hard, especially at the start, he did not want to go through any more withdrawals ever again. It was this sense of nearing victory that kept Drew moving forward through the most difficult and challenging obstacles of his life one step at a time.
These are Drew’s words of wisdom to staying sober and living an optimal life:
Don’t get caught up with the highs and lows in life. Stay at an even keel.
Don’t stop and keep moving. Always be in a project, keeping life exciting, busy and never, ever dull.
In the end, I salute my good friend Drew. I admire him deeply for who he is and what he accomplished. I admire the direction of life that he is following. I send you much love, as you are an inspiration and light for others.
Thank you for your time, my friends!