I am a US Army Veteran, former Police Officer and Corrections Officer. I am a father, husband, son and recovering opiate addict. I have served 5 tours of duty in Iraq, Cuba and Afghanistan in support of Operation Iraqi and Operation Enduring Freedom as a Military Police Officer.
I sustained a serious spinal injury along with a shoulder injury and shrapnel injuries due to an IED blast in 2012 while in combat operations in southern Afghanistan. I was in the hospital several times and the doctors, while they thought they were helping me, were actually destroying me with opiate pain medications.
My lumbar spine was fused from L1-L5, requiring numerous surgeries. My shoulder was filleted and put back together, and shrapnel was dug from my legs and torso. I remained on these powerful substances until 2015. I sought out several doctors, emergency room physicians, and even heroin to fuel my addiction for many years.
I was hopelessly addicted, lost, utterly destroyed. Here I was, a relatively young man, 70% service connected disabled, tagged with the PTSD banner and wrote off as damaged goods. I spiraled out of control.
I was convinced that I was going to be in pain for the rest of my life.
I hurt my family severely through my addiction. I lied, cheated, stole, and destroyed the trust they once had in me. One day, I finally hit the bottom of the barrel. I sat on the edge of my bed with a .45 in my hand, ready to meet my maker. I was trained and prepared to end my own life if ever captured. In war this made sense and now here I sit on the edge of my bed – how could this be? My addiction was the enemy and I wanted it all to end. I was convinced that I was going to be in pain for the rest of my life.
I was hopeless, yet I was selfish, self-absorbed and felt like the world owed me something. I was a veteran of foreign wars. I served my country, that made it ok, or so I thought. Thank God that my Higher Power sent my little girl to knock on the door that day, or I wouldn’t be able to relay this story to you now.
I was hopelessly addicted, lost, utterly destroyed.
The last straw came when one day when I told my wife that I was going to a local convenience store to get a pack of cigarettes and an energy drink. I was gone for an hour. I had gone to buy Heroin, no energy drink, no cigarettes…I went to buy poison. I returned with no explanation for my whereabouts and my wife had finally reached her breaking point. So had I. I never want to forget the pain, fear and shame that I felt that day, because I never want to experience it ever again. I was looking into the tear filled eyes of the person I loved the most, my best friend, while I was high on Heroin. If you had asked me just a few weeks earlier if I would have ever even considered using Heroin, I would have told you that you were crazy. I thought it was a dirty and disgusting thing, yet here I was – having done something I swore I would never do. That’s how quickly it can happen. That’s how evil addiction is.
Thankfully and gracefully, I have a strong and wonderfully supportive spouse, and she and I sat down and started dialing 1-800 numbers. Most places only cared about how much our insurance could pay, but then we found Chris at Warriors Heart.
He was a kind and generous man who helped my wife and I make an informed decision about finding recovery. I desperately wanted to be admitted into Warriors Heart but they were not even open yet and Chris was working the crisis lines, serving others and talking with warriors like me.
I was admitted into a treatment center in Nevada and it was a tough and humbling experience, but today I am thankful to have gone through it. I was able to kick heroin and opiates through a medically assisted detox program, and while still uncomfortable, it was not the absolute agony that I had remembered trying to do it cold turkey. However, the treatment process at the facility I went to felt as if I was speaking a foreign language when I spoke of my combat experience.
Furthermore, most of the civilian population at the facility did not have a high opinion of police officers, so I had to truly hide who I was. I think that this was a major hurdle that I was not able to confront until I came to Warriors Heart for their sober living program. While at Warriors Heart I was able to be completely myself. I am a proud Soldier and Former Police Officer. My oath of enlistment will never expire, and at Warriors Heart that is something that is honored and respected. I felt truly at ease and could heal completely.
I am a proud Soldier and former Police Officer. While at Warriors Heart I was able to be completely myself.
Now I am an Admissions Team member, and proud to be giving back to my brothers and sisters.
Once I arrived at Warriors Heart, the process did not stop. The staff stayed in constant contact with my wife and helped her to understand the changes and things that I was going through.
As the fog lifted, I could see things as they really were, not as my addiction told me they were. I could be Rob again, and that was OK. I didn’t have to be afraid of the nightmares of PTS anymore, because I could talk about them. I didn’t have to lie to anyone anymore about my addiction. I was free. My family could hear the change in my voice. It was nice to be awake again after all those years.
So, in conclusion, I would like to thank my loving, wonderful wife Melissa, as well as Chris at Warriors Heart for saving my life. It truly is a matter of life and death! I am forever grateful to these two people. They realized something good in me when I couldn’t realize it in myself.
I am happy to say, I am still happily married, I am getting to enjoy my children’s lives and actually be present in my own life. Let me tell you, life is a beautiful thing!
I truly hope that someone reading this will find their way to treatment and get their life back as well. This disease of addiction truly is cunning, baffling and powerful. Don’t let one more day go by. If you want to stop, pick up the phone and ask for help. Warriors Heart is one of a kind. It truly takes a real warrior man or woman to ask another for help! But I promise it is worth it to reach the other side! You can have a life truly beyond your wildest dreams!
May God bless each and every one of you!
– Rob Wilson