Vigil aims to ‘start the conversation about addiction’August 30, 2019
By CANDY NEAL
HUNTINGBURG — One by one, people stood to share their stories relating to addiction.
Stories about people who have gone through the struggle.
Stories about people who have lost the battle.
Stories about those who are still fighting.
All the stories were shared and received with love and compassion.
Thursday evening’s Overdose Awareness Candlelight Vigil was a loving place for those stories to be shared. About 75 people attended the vigil at Market Street Park in Huntingburg to hear, to share, to hug, to grieve and to hope.
Terry Fogle of Huntingburg said his journey to addiction started slowly and spread over years. He lived in a loving home with both parents “who worked hard to provide a nice life for me. They both loved me very well, then and now.”
Fogle was the typical kid who always wanted the latest toy or wanted to do cool and fun things. “And I started to crave status,” he said.
That continued into elementary and middle school, where he started doing things to impress others, including breaking rules.
“From high school to age 25,” Fogle said, “those were my tragedy years.”
It was in high school that he started drinking alcohol and using marijuana, which led to him using meth.
That took a toll on him, leading to arrests and relationship problems. And he was using all of his money to get the meth.
He ended up in a car accident. And that led him to a chiropractor who talked to him about his relationship with God. Fogle decided to turn to faith, but “I continued to hang on to the old lifestyle that I had,” he said. “I didn’t want to let go of it.”
Fogle eventually hit rock bottom. He lost his family. He got arrested again and faced doing some time in jail. And his friends started dying as a result of their drug addictions.
That was when Fogle really did put his faith in God and decided that he was going to stop the cycle in his life.
“It wasn’t easy,” he said. “What helped me was the people who stuck by me. When you go through recovery, you need to get a support system.”
Now, he works with young people to deter them from doing what he did. He’s also spoken to other addicts. Doing that helps him in his journey to stay clean, he explained.
“The next time I was contemplating that decision — and the struggle is still there — I think about the people in my life,” he said. “I don’t want to see them do that, so I’m not going to either.”
Others came forward to share their stories.
One woman shared how she blamed herself for her father’s death. He was an alcoholic and had been warned that if he kept drinking, it would kill him. She remembers giving him a beer when she was in grade school, and remembers him dying when she was in high school. She’s carried that guilt ever since.
Another woman talked about how her addiction affected her life and the life of her family.
A speaker talked about her son’s addiction and wanting to be able to solve that problem for him; she had to come to terms with the fact that she could not.
Mike Love explained how addiction can affect anyone.
“Some people think that people who become addicted to drugs, especially opiates, might be more of the down-and-out type, or maybe they have nothing to lose, or times are tough,” he said. “That’s not always the case. For me, I had the cat by the tail.”
He talked about his life. He lived in Jasper with his family and worked as a doctor for years. “If I could have written a book on the ideal life, I had it,” he said.
One day while working on his house, he hurt his back, causing back spasms. He tried ibuprofen and a heating pad before trying a hydrocodone tablet for the pain.
“It helped the pain a little, and helped me a lot, I thought,” he said. “I felt better about everything. Mundane tasks were easier. I had more energy. The list goes on. It was like a key fitting into a lock for me.”
After the back pain was gone, “I continued to take them because they made my life better,” he said, “so I thought.”
Love would go on taking opiates for the next several years, hiding his addiction from everyone. “I spent most waking hours on two things, the task at hand and where I was going to get my pain pills next,” he said. “It’s a terrible way to live your life. Opiates are a terrible mistress. Not only do you lose the euphoric feeling after awhile, but it takes more and more and more to keep from getting sick.”
He would eventually seek treatment. “Thank God my family stuck with me. But I almost lost my family,” he said. “I got arrested and went to jail.”
He also lost his job, and his medical license was suspended.
His biggest fear was going into treatment. But he knew he had to.
“There are easy ways to do things and hard ways to do things,” he said. “And you don’t want to do it the hard way.
“I took my last pill three years ago. I know I’m one of the lucky ones.”
He wasn’t sure how he would get through the ordeal. “But once I got treatment and got connected to other people who understood, I was able to go through it,” he said.
And while he still has to stay focused to not relapse, “I’m very thankful for every day that I have now,” he said. “My worst days now are better than my best days then.”
Thursday’s vigil concluded with the crowd holding candles as the names of loved ones who have lost the battle or are still dealing with addiction were read. The evening ended with a balloon release and lots of hugs of comfort and encouragement.
“I don’t think this is going to be the most fun event, but it is a necessary event,” said Jenna Bieker, the event’s coordinator. “Hopefully we can start the conversation about addiction.”
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