At Breathe Life Healing Centers, we hear amazing stories of strength from recovering addicts all the time. But every once in a while, a story sticks with you. This past week, a story about a heroin addict has captured our minds and our hearts.
The man known today as “Pops” was once one of most active heroin dealers and heroin addict in the U.S., earning himself the nickname “El Diablo.” He started using heroin at the age of 15. He got married, had kids, and continued using heroin without relent, even beginning to deal in America and Mexico. When his wife gave him an ultimatum between her and the heroin, Pops left his family in favor of the drugs.
It is a heartbreaking story. And if it ended there, we would sadly acknowledge the power addiction has over many, and continue to fight against it. But luckily, this is a tale where our hero defeats the enemy.
So what’s so amazing about this story in particular? What had us thinking about it days after watching? Maybe it was Pops’ ability to turn his life around after 30 years of being a heroin addict – habits are much harder to break as we get older. Maybe it was how he now gives back through his work at the Union Rescue Mission, finding purpose in his life through generosity. Maybe it was his bravery and commitment to find his family, or his family’s absolute forgiveness and acceptance of him back into their lives. It could have been any of these things.
Or maybe, it was just seeing his face, the face of a survivor, and appreciating fully his individual journey. Knowing there are so many like him, but remembering that he is not just a part of a statistic. This man, Pops, overcame tremendous physical and emotional odds. And no matter how late they seek treatment, or how serious their addiction was, each heroin addict who seeks recovery is their own extraordinary story. Reminding ourselves just how incredible these people are, on their journey from rock bottom back to truly living life – well, that’s worth taking a moment to stop and celebrate.