From time to time, Cove Center for Recovery publishes guest blogs that help our following in recovery. This story below by Herb is truly emblematic of what we want to inform our reads.
My name is Herb, I am an addict in recovery. The first time I used, it was alcohol and I was around fifteen years old. I had no idea what was in store for me when I took my first drink. Addiction is a progressive disease, and mine was no different; within a few short years, I experienced the bitter ends. I was addicted- not so much to one drug in particular at first, but to mood altering. When I didn’t like the way I felt, I avoided discomfort, I used to cope. I used to increase pleasure or decrease pain. I always felt like an outsider, and drugs and alcohol helped me feel like I finally fit into this world- until they stopped working. Eventually, it was all about decreasing pain, and running from the chaos the drugs were causing in my life.
By the time I was twenty-one, I was homeless and on the run from the law- living in the woods. From here, as it always does, it only got worse. Multiple arrests, overdoses, and deeper and deeper bottoms. I reached a point in my life where suicide became the only option. As I laid in a jail cell contemplating how I was going to take my own life, once I got to prison. I was going to go out of this life as a statistic, I would let the addiction win. Suicide by overdose. But then I was shown grace and mercy. My judge thought that treatment would be a more appropriate, long-term therapeutic solution to my problem. He sentenced me to a year in a local sober living home, the Respite House in Valparaiso.
“This world needs more places to give addicts opportunities to turn things around, I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t gotten that opportunity.”
My judge was right! We cannot incarcerate our way out of our drug addiction epidemic; treatment and long-term aftercare are the answer! I have been to many different jails throughout the country and the only thing they do is introduce us to more connections. They surround us with people with no desire to be there or get well. Jails and prisons are just a holding tank for addicts, and they’re flooded with drugs. They’re a crime school. That year in the sober living home was exactly what I needed! It was a great place for me to transition through my early recovery. It introduced me to recovery minded people with an honest desire to live clean! I jumped in with both feet!
Since my sentencing to the house, I have graduated successfully, gotten my son back in my life, established healthy supportive relationships in the community, made amends with my entire family, moved into my own home, published a book, and found a career! I speak any chance I am asked- on behalf of numerous agencies in our area with hopes of combating the heroin epidemic in my region. Also, I am an intervention coordinator and have the distinct honor of helping addicts and their families find recovery. I have a new puppy, amazing friends, integrity, peace of mind, and a brand new place in this world. All things I wouldn’t have if I were still using or sitting in prison. This world needs more places to give addicts opportunities to turn things around, I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t gotten that opportunity. I am truly blessed and humbled beyond belief!
Who is Herb Stepherson?
Herb Stepherson was born in Jonesboro, Georgia. He is the middle child of three boys. He is thirty-one years old and spent his youth like most young boys riding bikes and playing sports- like baseball. His family relocated to North West Indiana in 1997, when he was twelve years old. He attended Valparaiso High School until 2002, and since then, has been involved in the fight for his life. He has been battling the nightmares of addiction for the past fourteen years. At fifteen he first abused alcohol and from there quickly progressed to prescription pain medication and ultimately cocaine and heroin. Heroin and cocaine took him to the absolute edges of humanity.
He ended up homeless, eating food out of dumpsters, and strung out in some of the roughest neighborhoods in Chicago. The winter months are brutal in the Midwest with temperatures plummeting down towards forty degrees below zero. Herb slept in abandon buildings, airport terminals, and under bridges clinging to two basic needs: more heroin and to be numbed from the wreckage that this drug was creating in his life. All the while trying his best to keep hope alive that maybe one day he would finally be able to conquer this demon of addiction and recover.
Herb has seen it all
Jails, institutions, and death. Herb experienced them all. He’s been to the bitterest of ends and reached a point in his life where suicide became the only real option for relief against this thing called addiction. But, God intervened and delivered Herb from the death grip that his self- induced death sentence had on him. He writes his story at junkboxdiaries.com and his book “Junkbox Diaries” – A day in the life of a heroin addict is a stark, dark, and gripping account of what life is really like for the addict in active drug use.
Today, Herb celebrates life as a young man in recovery! He is an intervention coordinator, a budding young writer, a loving and active father to his five-year-old son, Lucas, and speaks on behalf of numerous agencies in his community hoping to shed some light on the true battles with heroin addiction.