A former Texas lawmaker recently told his story of overcoming drug addiction after a 2019 arrest at an airport.
Poncho Nevárez, a Democrat from Eagle Pass who was then serving in the Texas House, was caught on surveillance footage dropping an envelope that contained four baggies of cocaine as he was leaving Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, according to an affidavit.
He faced a charge of third-degree felony possession of a controlled substance, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in state prison.
Nevárez turned himself in to authorities on the felony drug charge but was released after posting his bond of $10,000, according to The Texas Tribune.
He confirmed to the media that he was guilty of the charges and announced that he would not seek re-election the following year, reported the Austin American-Statesman.
The charges were eventually dropped, according to Texas Public Radio.
“I do not have anyone to blame but myself,” said Nevárez in a statement. “In a weird way, I am grateful. Grief and addiction were consuming me, but oddly enough, I feel better now than I have in a long time, and I mean that.”
Nevárez explained his compulsion and drug addiction at the time to The Houston Chronicle, saying that he did not feel he had a choice at times.
“There’s a part of you that’s dominated by the disease that tells you that whatever the risk is, it’s worth it,” said Nevárez.
The former representative attributed his will to recover from addiction in part to his children.
Nevárez recounted taking his son to school weeks before his confession to prosecutors, during which time he was still drinking and using drugs.
His son noticed his disposition and said Nevárez appeared sad. The boy offered his father his fruit snacks to make him feel better.
This innocent offer, Nevárez said, made him more aware of his actions and how they affected his loved ones and those around him.
“It broke me,” said Nevárez. “I didn’t just need to change. Now I wanted to. … I just kind of intuitively felt that If I tried to defend it, or if I tried to make it go away, I wasn’t going to survive it, and I’m not talking about the fallout. I’m talking about living.”
Nevárez also said that his work at the capitol in Austin had become unsatisfying because of the cut-throat political culture. This feeling was only compounded by the grief he had been dealing with after losing two loved ones, he shared.
“I don’t want people to think that I have a grudge against the place because I don’t,” Nevárez said. “It’s a wonderful place. And it can be wonderful and terrible all at once. All of that was me, not the place. And I think that place will change anyone. It’s just what you let it do to you.”
Nevárez is now more than three years into recovery. He continues to go to support meetings but is also back to practicing law and recently started a band.