EUGENE, Ore. -- A former drug addict is offering his own experiences with addiction after Lane County health officials said emergency rooms in Lane County have seen 21 heroin-related overdoses in just three days.
KEZI 9 News spoke with John Ford, who has changed his life for the better.
He said drug addiction was a constant problem he's dealt with throughout his life, which led him to homelessness and even three arrests.
But after his last stint in jail, Ford said he made a promise to himself he would never be there ever again and he wanted to make an effort to inform others not to follow his path.
Ford is now a certified drug and alcohol counselor with Relief Nursery, a child abuse and neglect prevention agency.
He said he primarily works with parents struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, similar to what he dealt with.
Ford said he has not used drugs or consumed any alcohol since he was last arrested Nov. 18, 2006 -- a day he said changed his life forever.
"I got arrested in 2006, which I now call rescued,” Ford said. “I was rescued from the lifestyle; I wasn't arrested by the good old Jackson County Sheriff's (Office) down in southern Oregon. And from that point on, I just changed my life around. I was tired living the way that I lived. I wanted something better for myself."
He said after jail, he got in a 12-step recovery program where he was able to do some self-exploration, which allowed him to limit his exposure to drugs and alcohol and the people who were bad influences in his life.
"The message I want to get out there is that we can get clean, stay clean, and lose the desire. Get involved in services here in town,” Ford said. “Get your Oregon Health Plan, get treatment, reach out, ask for help."
Officials with the county said if you use prescribed opioids or illegal drugs, you should have Narcan with you, which can save your life. They also suggest not mixing drugs.
Officials with the county said they offer help and hope through their Prevention Lane Program.