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 recent graduate from Vertava Health of Tennessee, Bill.
Bill’s story is one of pain and devastation 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. Bill is proof. Read on.
How long have you been sober?
My sober date is January 10, 2015. So a little over 2 months now.
What is your background? How did you start doing drugs or drinking?
When I was 10 years old, my family moved from the states to Greece. I’m Greek, so it was basically going back home for my family. I went to school there and started smoking weed at a young age, and I started moving large amounts of it.
I had kind of a rough childhood, and I kind of had to support myself through those years.
When I was 18, I went to the army for 18 months – it’s mandatory there. That’s when I was introduced to smoking opium. I didn’t really like it, but there was nothing else around to get high on.
What happened after that?
After I served in the army, I went back to the States. I ended up renting a room in a really bad spot. I didn’t really know anyone around, so I asked a guy that lived near me where to get some weed. This guy was doing heroin at the time, but he showed me where I could get weed. That only lasted a few weeks, and then he introduced me to heroin.
The quality of heroin that he had was pretty bad compared to Europe, but I did it anyway.
How did you first get help for your addiction?
I ended up getting into trouble with the law. I passed some weed onto an undercover cop and went to jail. As part of my sentence, I had to do a 12 step program. And for a little while, I was able to clean up.
After I got out, I started making good money. I bought a house, I bought a motorcycle. I was still sober, and I was doing pretty good.
When did you go back to using?
I was doing so well, I started my own business. But I got really busy, really quick. I started doing cocaine, trying to run the business and keep up with everything. I would get so strung out on coke, I needed something to help me come down.
That’s when I went back to heroin.
I was always using off and on – and for a long time I was still functioning. I was going on vacations, running my business, really just living the fast life. I got caught with heroin coming out of a neighborhood, but I was able to pay my way out of it. In the back of my head, I knew I had to stop or I’d get arrested.
After a while though, it became very difficult to function. If I didn’t take something, I couldn’t move. I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning without taking something. I was late to job sites. I knew it was not a good way to be living my life.
How did you finally get into Vertava Health of Tennessee?
I was really at the point where I didn’t want to live anymore. I wouldn’t have minded dying. I had been praying, “Lord, help me with this. Help me with these chains.”
One night when I was driving home, my mom texted me. I don’t really have a close relationship with my family, but I got that text and I saw a phone number on it.
I didn’t call right away, but when I did a few days later – that number connected me to Brett at Vertava Health.
At the time, I had a vacation set up in the Dominican Republic. I knew that it would be dangerous for me to go – I’d be looking for coke, and you never know what can happen in a foreign country. So I canceled my flights, and went to Vertava Health instead.
What made your experience at Vertava Health of Tennessee different?
Vertava Health taught me how to live again – they taught me that I have a lot more to live for – and I’ve truly lost interest in drinking or drugging.
While I was there, I realized that I had lost almost 20 years of my life to drugs. Getting treatment made me feel like I was born again.
What did you discover about yourself while in treatment?
I learned that I always had a good heart. I was always giving. The only thing bringing me down was addiction. Honestly, I know now that I’m not a bad person.
What would you tell someone who is in denial about their addiction?
Before I got help, I felt like I was locked in a 5’ x 5’ room, with no way out. There is a way out and there is freedom. If you want that freedom – you’ve got to go treatment, you’ve got to get help.
What would you tell someone about treatment to inspire them to go to Vertava Health of Tennessee?
I’ve never been to a program where people are so loving. The people at Vertava Health really love me and care about me. It’s amazing what Erik Hines started there – that guy saved my life.
I’m planning a trip to get back to Tennessee and see all of the guys there again. They’re such an important part of my life.
What keeps you sober each day?
I now have the tools I need to stay sober. Everyday isn’t a walk in the park – but I feel good. I’m living a normal life again, working hard, going to meetings and going to church every week. I have a lot of people around me, supporting me and encouraging me – and a lot of people I don’t want to let down.
I make sure that I live for today, and that’s it.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
I just feel like I was able to start over again, and it’s incredible. I can’t believe what I was missing out on this whole time.