The Road to Recovery: Overcoming Prescription Drug Addiction

David began using prescription drugs in 2009 after knee surgery and soon became addicted to his medication. Realizing his addiction was spiraling out of control, David sought help at a drug rehabilitation center in Madison, Alabama. He did well after leaving rehab but relapsed six months later when he lost his job. His wife became pregnant around the same time, causing added financial stress.

David kept his relapse under control as much as he could until it finally overpowered him in 2014. He was unstable, frequently changing jobs and living out of a motel. He became fed up with his situation and attempted to overcome his addiction on his own. After three months of sobriety, David checked into the Salvation Army Center of Hope Homeless Shelter in Florence, Alabama.

He also joined the City of Florence recycling program to pay off prior warrants but wanted a way of earning money to begin saving for his new life journey.

“I wanted to begin working so that I could start saving for a place of my own. I went to a temp service and got a job that same day. My judge saw that I was trying to better myself, so he cut the fines on my warrants so that I could reduce my time recycling and spend more time working to save money,” David shared.

Although David was now working full-time to create a better life for himself and his kids, old financial habits stuck. He often spent his paychecks irresponsibly, but his caseworker offered advice and helped David become more financially responsible. The Coronavirus pandemic began, and self-isolation was mandatory. Limited access to the outside world also helped David stay focused on his goals if overcoming drug addiction and saving money to become financially independent.

“My social worker has helped me to get my first apartment. The Salvation Army has allowed me to reconnect with my boys and has given me the patience to wait and find the right things instead of jumping first,” David shared.

“Everyday someone was encouraging me. I’ve been to other rehab facilities and felt like I was just a number, but here someone asks how I’m doing every day,” David added.

“You could tell that there was something different about David. He was ready for someone to help him.”

David is currently in transitional housing and is saving to find a home. He’s now able to visit his sons every weekend, and his eldest son has moved in with him. Having this opportunity has helped with reunifying his relationship with all three sons.

“Since David has come, he has been such a big help. Everyone has chores to do. He takes the initiative to help around the Corps and is a great leader. He’s even helped other residents with their chores. David may feel that we have been a blessing to him, but he has been a blessing to us. He’s a really good guy and a go-getter. I saw it from the beginning. You could tell that there was something different about David. He was ready for someone to help him. He just needed some guidance,” shared Captain Wendy Deuel, The Salvation Army of Florence Corps Officer.

“He came at the right time. We may think of COVID-19 as something horrible, but God made this an opportunity for David to get on the right track. It gave him the time he needed to better himself and focus on himself. We have to learn to look at things the way God may look at them. COVID-19 may not be a good thing, but it was a good thing for David. I praise God for the storm. Through COVID-19, David was able to get his kids back. I can’t wait to see what else God has planned for him,” Captain Wendy Deuel added.

David is sober for the first time in five years. This October marks a year of him being drug-free.

Smoke the Therapy Dog

The Salvation Army of Baton Rouge has welcomed a new member to their family. Smoke is a therapy dog to the men and staff in the Corps Recovery Center (CRC).

Welcoming a therapy dog into the recovery program was Major Donald Tekautz’s idea. He often took his dog to the CRC during a former appointment in Memphis. He realized that having a dog was beneficial to residents and decided to bring a therapy dog on board in Baton Rouge.

“In other appointments, I have seen the quality of life a dog can bring to our clients. They become the best counselor the men have because dogs keep secrets no matter what you tell them. Though it sounds tripe, dog is the same name as God just backward, so I do believe that they have an innate quality to bring peace and tranquility to our lives. They are messengers of peace, and Smoke certainly has brought that to the property for our guys. Smoke is a great dog, and the guys in the program are benefiting from him greatly,” shared Major Tekautz.

Smoke is two years old and was adopted from a local Baton Rouge shelter. He lives at the CRC, and residents are in charge of caring for him. A monthly schedule rotates responsibilities for residents, who take turns feeding, bathing, and walking Smoke as well, making sure he takes his heartworm medication until he heals.

The men in the CRC program spend a lot of time with Smoke. He has a kind heart and continuously wants to be petted and hugged. A lot of the residents enjoy him being around because he signifies comfort.

“It’s been great to have a dog around. It has brought a piece of home to my life and my recovery. Smoke seems to like it here, and I know we enjoy having him here. We’ve all fallen in love with Smoke, and we think he might love us too,” shared Percy, a CRC resident.


Giving Veterans a Hand up in Shreveport

Perouz Farokhkish is proud of his service in the United States Army. Growing up Christian in Lake Charles, Louisiana to a Middle Eastern father and American mother, he saw no signs of prejudice or hatred. When he returned home after two tours supporting the war in Iraq, he couldn’t help but notice something was different.

“The best I can describe it is like a Vietnam veteran, it was very difficult,” said Farokhkish. “For me, I was a man just like anyone else.”

Following the attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon on 9/11, Farokhkish says his Middle Eastern decent made him stand out. He isolated himself, not leaving home very much. Looking back now he says he didn’t trust people especially the Veterans Administration Hospitals he needed to get help. For fifteen years, Farokhkish kept to himself, kept his thoughts and feelings locked inside.

“When you get out, there was nothing there to help you re-balance, so you get out and all you know is to run, and if you can’t run, if something trips you, you are a complete and total failure.”

Then a referral to The Salvation Army in Shreveport changed his life. Perouz says the compassion showed by the staff in the Veteran’s shelter and by the officers helped him open up.

“I always needed to talk but didn’t know who would allow me to let it out,” said Farokhkish. “Being able to talk to other veterans was greatly helpful. For me to be able to help the elderly veterans to navigate simple things like a cell phone, it was therapeutic to think even here I could give back.”

Perouz stayed in the veterans’ shelter for five months. He now is enrolled at Louisiana State University-Shreveport studying Psychology. He is grateful to those who helped him at The Salvation Army and volunteers to this day.

“Finding other veterans who experienced similar situations was really comforting,” said Farokhkish. “And gave me a lot of solace to know that you can come out of that. It doesn’t have to stay that way forever.”

The Salvation Army of Shreveport has worked hand in hand with the Overton Brooks VA Hospital by providing transitional and emergency housing for homeless Veterans both male and female.

The veterans shelter offers 29 beds, 24 for men and five for women.

In 2016, The Salvation Army provided nearly 8,000 nights of lodging for veterans and over 20,000 meals serving 250 veterans overall.

To get more information on how The Salvation Army is helping veterans in Shreveport, please click here.