Heroin Addiction: ‘It’s an equal opportunity illness’

Local News

After three heroin arrests in two days in Fort Wayne, a recovering user opened up to WANE 15 about his own addiction. 

Tim Ervin was addicted to heroin for 20 years. His addiction started when he was in the hospital recovering from an accident. He took painkillers as part of that recovery. 

“My taste for the opiate and the pleasure and the sensation that it brought started then,” Ervin said. “After I got out of the hospital, I started toying around with different kinds of prescription pills…dilaudid and morphine and things like that. As those drugs weren’t available anymore, you turn to the streets and the heroin was a lot cheaper. Then, the next thing you know it’s got you by the butt.” 

Ervin said it was “like a 24-hour job on the streets” getting heroin, but he kept at it for 20 years.

The Bowen Recovery Center in Fort Wayne said no one is immune to addiction. 

“It’s an equal opportunity illness,” said Dr. Carolyn Greer, Bowen’s director of addiction services.

Greer also said there three are common traits addicts tend to share, genetics, early exposure and trauma, like abuse or neglect. 

“Those things can happen to anybody,” said Greer. “It doesn’t matter. No one is protected.”

According to Greer, drug use continues to start at an earlier age. The same was true for Ervin.

“I was a kid,” Ervin said. “I was 15 or 16 years old.” 

In 1997, Ervin’s addiction got him arrested. That was when he decided it was time to make a change. 

“I had a family and I had kids and I just got to the point where something had to change,” he said. “Once I made that decision and got help, it worked.” 

He entered a treatment program and once he got out of prison, he earned multiple college degrees, and now works for the Fort Wayne Rescue Mission with a passion for helping others beat their addiction. 

He said he no longer gets the urge to use drugs again and “life is good.” 

Both Ervin and Greer said it’s important to get help if you are struggling with an addiction. They also said if you know someone battling addiction, the best thing you can do is make sure they have support in their recovery and their efforts are not stigmatized.

Information on treatment options is available on the Rescue Mission and the Bowen Recovery Center‘s websites. 

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