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From Addict at 10 to Millionaire at 35

| June 1, 2010

“When I am focused on helping someone else, I am living in the moment, and all of the fear, guilt, sadness and anxiety of yesterday and tomorrow vanishes. In the process of helping someone else, I’m able to stop worrying about me, and focus on another’s needs. This is a liberating sensation that allows me to connect at a spiritual level, and to leave my worldly issues behind.” – Derek Steele from the book, Addict at 10.

Derek Steele, 37, a long-time Hou­stonian and current resident of Missouri City, has written an amazing book, Addict at 10. It follows Steele from his first sip of tequila at age 8 to his escape from police at 20. It’s a story of parental neglect, peer pressure and hitting rock bottom. “The book is a clear first-person experience about recovery,” Steele said.

“The Department of Health and Human Services states that over 22 million people are so severely afflicted with addiction that they need hospitalization,” says Steele. “The typical addict adversely affects a minimum of five people (mother, father, children, employer, etc). That means that over 100 million people are being directly affected by this illness. My book is aimed at those 100 million people.”

The story leaves few details out. Steele describes the sensation of tripping on acid, the paranoia between highs and, most importantly, the inadequacy felt as a young child surrounded by self-absorbed adults. In 1993, Steele resolved to change his life. In the middle of his riskiest drug deal ever, he walked away and told those he was dealing with, “You’ll never see me again.”

True to his word, he sought help. With the support of a 12-step treatment program, he found God and left drugs and alcohol behind. In the book, Steele testifies that addiction is on going, as is the addict’s need to resist temptation. He stays current with his participation in 12-step programs for the support he receives from fellow recovering addicts.

He drank alcohol at 8, smoked pot at 10 and was fully addicted to ecstasy, meth and cocaine by 16. For Steele, the drugs were less poisonous than the people around him. He came from a family of addicts. His parents laughed as their 8-year-old son sipped margaritas and got drunk for the first time. His first line of coke came straight from a stash found in his father’s briefcase. Dismissive and materialistic, his parents were absent for most of his childhood. To cope, he sold drugs in junior high, dropped out of high school and wound up behind bars. By the age of 20, he was homeless, unemployed and hiding from a vicious drug dealer who wanted him dead. It was at that time that he had a “moment of clarity” and vowed to change his life.

Within a year of his recovery he was a partner in a construction company. Work became his passion, and he continued to grow as an entrepreneur—eventually owning several successful companies. “I was basically forced into entrepreneurship because I had a criminal record and couldn’t get a traditional job,” Steele said. “I was working in retail, and a man that I knew from a 12-step program asked me to come on board part time at his construction company. I went to work for him and continued to work retail to help pay the bills.”

In 1995, after working construction for a year, Derek founded Steele Contracting, a residential construction company serving clientele with storm-damaged homes across the U.S. He later co-founded a Web-based software development company with a friend in Austin. That company folded a year before tropical storm Allison deluged Houston in 2001 with record-breaking floodwaters. “I knew construction and insurance repair so I went back into that after Allison. With a friend, I formed a construction company that later branched out into the landscape business.” This company became the award-winning Hamilton-Steele Outdoor Accents, one of Houston’s largest landscape design, building and maintenance firms. He sold that business after five years in a multi-million dollar deal, giving him the financial freedom to take time off and write his book.

Although he had achieved financial and entrepreneurial success, Steele still felt empty. He now believes he will find his greatest fulfillment in helping others. Addict at 10 was the start of his newest venture, Success Resources.

“Oddly enough, the idea to write the book came from my dad. I wanted to commit my life to serving others. He told me I should share my story—write a book and speak to audiences.” Steele’s parents, with whom he has reconciled, agreed for him to “air the family’s dirty laundry” even though they experienced some painful reactions after actually seeing the book in print.

Steele currently works as an author, speaker and success coach. He wrote Addict at 10 to help people struggling with addiction, and to educate them about the road to recovery and the importance of God, therapy and service to others. He is director of community outreach for Teen and Family Services and serves on that organization’s board of directors. He is also involved with Covenant House Houston and will do a national book tour with Covenant House this year.

Derek and wife, Becky, moved to Sienna Plantation two years ago with their children, Madison and Maddox.

For more information about Derek Steele, or to order Addict at 10, go to www.dereksteele.com.


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