State Rep. Poncho Nevárez felt the sudden urge to fall back on old tendencies when the state’s top law enforcement officer gave him a call in the fall of 2019.
An envelope, with his official letterhead, containing about 2 grams of cocaine had been found by authorities on the floor of the Austin airport weeks earlier, Texas’ Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw told him.
Nevárez was tempted to cover it up with more of the lies, omissions and deceit that had marked the last several years of his life.
A personal injury lawyer who’d been representing his Eagle Pass district for about six years at the time, he now likens the addict’s mentality to that of a mouse constantly searching for a way to escape traps and still somehow keep the cheese.
It was the same way of thinking that led him to make a choice that any sober person would find superbly dense: taking drugs to a federally secured airport in a receptacle with his own name on it.
“It doesn’t even seem like a choice,” he recalls, adding he didn’t even realize at the time where he’d lost it. “There’s a part of you that’s dominated by the disease that tells you that whatever the risk is, it’s worth it.”
This time, though, there was no room for deception: Police had video of him dropping the drugs.
Weeks later, as a meeting with prosecutors approached, he drank and used again. The next morning, weary and hungover, as he dropped off his son, Ponchito, at school, the reality of how his actions had been affecting others stirred something in him.
“You look sad, papi,” his 9-year-old told him from the backseat, stretching his small arm toward his father, offering him a pouch of Welch’s fruit snacks. “I like these because they make me happy because they’re good.”
“It broke me,” Nevárez said. “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.”
At the meeting with law enforcement, he came clean and learned he was eligible for pretrial diversion, an alternative to prosecution for offenders who stay out of trouble and comply with other terms, such as mandated counseling or community service.
That was Oct. 14, 2019. Ever since, Nevárez says he has maintained not just abstinence, as he likes to stress, but the conscious everyday choice of sobriety.
See here for a bit of background. I hadn’t thought much of former Rep. Nevárez since then, though I’d occasionally see him on Twitter, often in the replies to political and Texas media types that I follow, usually making a wisecrack. He’s making music now, and seems to have had some success at it. The impression I came away with from this piece, which includes quotes from several of his former Lege colleagues, is that he is in a better place now, and I’m glad to see it. I hope that continues. Go read the rest and see what you think.