VANCLEAVE, MS (WLOX) - Eleven men who are battling addiction celebrated a milestone Friday. They graduated from a 12-week recovery program at the Home of Grace in Vancleave.
One man received his certificate from the program last month. As America grapples with an opioid epidemic, he shares his story of addiction to pain killers.
"I was spiritually broken. I was done. I was ready to die," said Robby Rodrigue.
Rodrigue admits he's a man broken by decades of drug abuse.
"I guess curiosity at a young age. The first time I ever smoked marijuana, we found it at a friend of mine's dad. He was growing it in the backyard," he said.
Rodrigue said his drug use escalated to cocaine, ecstasy and crystal meth when he lost two close friends in separate car accidents. Then, in 2008, Rodrigue injured his back in a motorcycle crash. He turned to prescription medication to ease the pain. But he soon discovered heroin was much cheaper on the streets. He said he was spending $300 a day for two grams of heroin.
"Before I'd get up in the morning, before I make coffee, I was loading up a needle, cooking up a spoon," he said.
Rodrigue said he used his paycheck from a construction manager's job and pawned tools to buy the heroin. He entered rehab several times, but kept relapsing. His addiction took a toll on his family.
"I don't have a good relationship with my son. He hasn't even called me back today. That's all my fault," he said.
In May, Rodrigue entered the Christian Recovery Program at the Home of Grace. He said this time, it was not just for him.
"I want to walk my little girl down the aisle when she gets married," he said as tears filled his eyes.
Rodrigue is now clean and in the third phase of the program. Part of his responsibilities involves mentoring others who are struggling with addiction.
"I do know that's my purpose in life. It's to obey God and to serve other people, to minister other people like myself, broken men. Let them see their life can change," said Rodrigue.
You can support the addiction recovery scholarship fund at the Home of Grace by joining the HOG Ride and Festival Saturday. The bikes start rolling at 7:30 A.M. at Singing River Island. The family festival will be at First Baptist Church in Gulfport. Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant will join more than 500 motorcycles in revving-up the fun.