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, Erik Hines.
Erik’s story is one of destruction 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. Erik is proof. Read on.
How many years sober are you?
I’m 12 and a half years sober. I had a one day relapse about 6 months into my recovery – but I’ve been sober ever since.
When did you start using and why?
Where it all started for me was middle school rebellion. My mom and stepdad were always a good influence, but my dad was always in and out of prison. I would always hear stories about my dad and my uncle going to wild parties, getting in fights, and earning respect around town. Man, I wanted that kind of respect.
I got kicked out of middle school and went to reform school for two years. I went to high school for a short time before being kicked out and going back to reform school. In order to earn respect, I brought dope to school, brought a pistol, knocked a guy’s teeth out – eventually I was kicked out of reform school again when I was 17. I had a felony on my record before I was 18. Anything and everything good in my life, I had a rebellion.
I did my first line of cocaine with my dad. I also had my first drink with him, smoked my first cigarette with him, and smoked weed with him. (My dad did eventually get sober years down the road, before he passed away.)
What was your drug of choice? How did you pay for your drugs?
Cocaine was my dearest love. I started mixing it with Xanax and drinking heavily. I tried to sell cocaine, but it was like a monkey trying to sell bananas – I wanted to keep it all for myself.
I’d run out of money pretty quickly, so I’d go into the ghetto and rob people. It’s hard for me to think about it now – but I’d get people in my car and beat them with a hammer for money. My brother and I had a reputation for beating up drug dealers.
How did you know you were addicted? What happened after that?
My drug use went from weekend partying to this closed door, ugly addiction.
After I turned 18, within the first month, I had 32 charges against me – possession of cocaine, simple assault, underage drinking, and so on. I was the run from the law, hotel to hotel, friend’s house to friend’s house.
One night, I went to buy weed from my female cousin’s boyfriend. I saw him slap her, and I immediately jumped into a fight. Later that night, my brother and I came back and beat him into a coma. We were charged with attempted murder. I plead down to aggravated assault, and I continued doing the same old things. I was always on the run – in and out of jail.
What was your turning point? How did you get into treatment?
When I was 22, I was back in jail. Another inmate told me about a Christian-type program one of his friends had gotten into. So I wrote to the program director, and just 5 days later, he wrote back. He said God had told him to visit me and give me a chance. The District Attorney originally shot me down for the opportunity, but eventually, he said he’d give me one shot – but if I messed up, I’d be right back in jail without any more chances. So I was allowed to go to the program as an inmate.
I really only wanted to go just to get out of jail – I couldn’t have ever imagined it would change everything for me. When I thought about becoming a Christian, I thought it was for the weak minded. I thought it was for old people who were scared to die, or people who just wanted to make them feel better about things.
What did you discover while in treatment?
I found that God was attainable, He was reachable. The same God that controls the waves in the ocean, how bright the sun is, the universe – He loved me. Even as a drug addict and a felon. I fell in love with that and engulfed myself with it. I completed a year in the program – completely turning my life around.
How was your family affected by your recovery?
As I was completing the program, I went to my home church and saw the most beautiful blonde girl I’d ever seen. She was gorgeous. I had never talked to a Christian girl before – I didn’t know what to do or how to do it. So I found her dad and asked him if I could talk to her.
That beautiful blonde girl I saw at church is now my wife. We’ve been married for 13 years and have two sons, Mason and Jaxon.
What are the three main things that keep you sober?
First of all, my relationship with God. Then my wife and two boys.
What would you tell someone who has a son or daughter on the same path you were on?
Find out what they want out of life – is where they want to go matching what they’re doing today? There are only three options when it comes to addiction – death, jail, or recovery.
When you realize their lifestyle has gotten out of hand, you have to make it as uncomfortable as possible to continue that habit and make it as comfortable as possible for recovery.
You need to quickly connect them with someone that sees life in their eyes and has earned the right to speak into their life.
Erik Hines went on to become an ordained pastor and award-winning motivational speaker who has lead numerous small companies, ministries, and organizations to success.
He founded Spring 2 Life in 2006 and grew the organization from 4 beds to 30 beds in a 3 year period. Erik is now the President of Spring 2 Life Christian Addiction Recovery, Vertava Health’ Tennessee campus in Murfreesboro, TN.