Rick’s Story: Hope in the Face of a Drug Epidemic
January 30th, 2015 | By Brittany Meadows
Our country is experiencing a drug epidemic. 100 people die a day from drug overdoses. Heroin is taking out entire cities. People are becoming hopelessly addicted to painkillers. Meth labs are everywhere.
But all is not lost. There is hope. There is healing. Today we are sharing with you a story of one of our friends, a graduate from Spring to Life – Rick.
Rick’s story is one of pain and destruction, but also hope and inspiration. This may mirror your life. This may mirror the life of your loved one. We want you to know that addiction can be treated and a fulfilling life can be had. Rick is proof. Read on.
How long have you been sober?
I’ve been sober 2 years now.
What is your background?
To give you a little background – when I was growing up, my parents moved around a lot. By the time I was 13 we had moved 32 times. I was physically, mentally and emotionally abused by my father and my brother.
By the age of 15, I was emancipated from my family. I went on to finish school and get a job at factory, but the issues I faced as a child really carried over into my life as I got older: I was married and divorced at a young age – I moved around state to state.. It was like, the two people that brought me into this world – I was supposed to be able to trust, but I never could. And that really affected me.
I finally met my wife in Middle Tennessee. I really loved her, but I honestly just never trusted her.
How did you start drinking or doing drugs?
About 7 years ago, I had neck surgery. I was prescribed Percocet afterward, and I took them as needed. For a while.
I was still having some problems – so my buddy told me to take 4-5 of the pain pills per day to really feel better. So I did. And I really did feel better – my neck didn’t hurt anymore and I actually functioned a lot better.
What happened after that? When did you realize you were addicted?
Well, I was still going to the doctor and he was writing me prescriptions for Percocets. The prescription was for 120 pills for 2-3 weeks, but I’d usually finish them off in 4-5 days.
By that time, I was on disability. I was wanting and needing more and more painkillers, but wasn’t making the same amount of money I was before. So I started stealing to feed my habit.
At one point, we were living with my in-laws. I still remember – it was my oldest son’s first day of kindergarten – and I stole money from my father-in-law. My wife found out and her and her mother confronted me. So I came clean about it.
I was so embarrassed and ashamed. Everyone was so disappointed in me. I crawled in bed and stayed there for about 4-5 days, cut myself off cold-turkey from the painkillers, and tried to detox myself.
I actually stayed sober for a few months after that – but eventually, something triggered me to start using again. And the second time around, it was much worse.
What happened after your relapse?
At that point, I was working for a heating and air company. I was in and out of people’s homes to work on their units while they were at work. So they’d usually leave the door unlocked or give me a code to get in.
While I was in their homes, the first thing I’d always check was the cabinets to see what kind of pills they had. About 90% of people always had prescription pain pills. And if there weren’t any pills – I’d check the jewelry box, take what I could find, and sell it to one of those shops that buy and sell gold.
One day, I stole a lady’s jewelry and the next day she called my employer. My boss believed me when I told him I hadn’t done anything because I was actually a good employee – I always did what I was supposed to do and I never missed a day of work, even though I was always high.
When I got called down to the police station, they confirmed I had sold over $12,000 worth of jewelry in a short amount of time at one shop. At the time, I was furious with the lady who caught me – but now, I thank God everyday that someone stopped me.
How did this affect your family?
After that, I was still using – I lost my job and my wife told me to leave. I had a 7-year-old and a newborn baby. I was cold, I was hardened, and I didn’t even tell my kids goodbye.
I just wanted to get high.
My wife eventually filed for divorce.
How did you get into Spring to Life?
After I got kicked out, I was living with a buddy. I kept using more and more and drinking more and more. One day, a friend of mine said he could help me get a job and to meet him at his church.
I was expecting he’d tell me he had some janitorial work or something – but instead, he told me I had a problem and he had help for me.
That’s when he told me about Erik Hines and Addiction Campuses. Even though I didn’t really know what to expect or think about rehab, for some reason I felt like I needed to do it. So I reluctantly said yes.
That was 8 days before my wife had to finalize the divorce.
What changed in you when you got to treatment?
I had never been able to trust anyone in my life – I never thought I could trust a God I couldn’t even see. But on my second day at the Lodge at Spring to Life, I gave my life to Him. It was so scary, but something told me that I had to do it and I could trust God.
I prayed for a reconciled marriage.
Instead of finalizing our marriage, my wife came to the Lodge and we sat and talked with Pastor John. Since then, through a lot of prayer and sacrifice, we’ve gotten through it all and we are better than we’ve ever been. And now I don’t just love her – I trust her, too.
What made your experience at Spring to Life different?
Everyone at Spring to Life had been through what I was going through. All of the leaders had once struggled with addiction, they had all lost a lot and come close to losing it all. But they all found healing here.
Erik’s program – “The Gears” is about changing the desires of the heart and living that out. And when I logically thought about freedom from addiction – I was able to believe it and live it. What a difference it made in my life.
How is your family now?
My family is amazing now. I’m able to be the spiritual leader of the house. I lead my family in prayer. I get to see my kids pray and read the Bible. We’re able to communicate in a way I never even knew was possible. It’s so incredible to be a father and to be there for my kids in the way that they need me.
What is the greatest thing you learned about yourself while at Spring to Life?
I learned that I have a purpose in the life. I learned that God really can love me for who I am.
What would you tell someone who is in denial about their addiction?
If someone is in denial about their addiction, I’d tell them they’re doing exactly what the Enemy wants them to do. The Devil uses it to destroy lives.
When you’re addicted, you’re missing out on some of the greatest things. You’re missing out on freedom.
What would you tell someone about treatment to inspire them to go to Spring to Life?
The people you’re going to be surrounded by at Spring to Life will change your life. You’re not just a number here – you’re embraced by people with your best intentions. They want you to be set free.
Everyone here has been addicted – we’ve had the life experiences. We’re not just reading out of a textbook. This has worked for us and it’s worked for so many other men who’ve come through the program. You’re in the best hands possible.
What keeps you sober each day?
Honestly, I don’t have any desires to go back to that lifestyle. God has taken it from my heart.
I’m now in a position where I administer medications every day, but I don’t even think about it. He changed my heart and my desires, and I’m thankful I don’t have to worry about feeling like that again.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
So many times I’ve heard, “Once an addict, always an addict.” But it’s just not true. I’ve experienced it, I’ve lived it. And I know that God removes those desires.