‘Christ has healed me’
Mike Price’s downward spiral into heroin addiction began innocently when his doctor put him on Vicodin after a wrist operation.
“That started my 14–year run of opiate abuse,” he said. “After getting that prescription, I never stopped.”
When his doctor said he didn’t need Vicodin anymore and cut him off, Price bought it on the streets of Dayton, Ohio, where he worked.
“Before I knew it, I was doing heroin,” Price said. “The heroin was a lot cheaper and stronger.”
Price had worked his way up from a carpenter to the superintendent of a major construction company in Dayton. Once a model father and involved in youth sports, he resorted to buying drugs by taking out loans for $5,000 and $10,000 without his wife’s knowledge.
In 2004, Price’s addiction cost him his job and several others after that. But it was only the beginning of his losses.
“I lost my family. I lost my identity. I lost everything,” Price said. “I was in desperation and despair. I think it was a surprise to everyone how I went down this road.”
Running the streets
Price was homeless for a year and a half and would live in abandoned houses overrun with trash and raccoons until the police ran him off.
“I was OK with that,” he said. “You get so numbed by the drugs that you really don’t care anymore.”
Price would watch people go about their daily lives and think, I’ll bet he’s not doing heroin. I’ll bet she’s not an addict. He found his circumstances humbling and just wanted to be normal again.
“I’d always think, Jesus cut me off at the knees because I was that prideful guy climbing the ladder and stepping on other people’s toes to achieve what I wanted,” he said.
Price went to 11 rehab centers all over the country, but nothing ever stuck. He continued lying, cheating, and stealing.
“A lot of times, I was suicidal,” he said. “I was at the end of my rope. Heroin had such a hold on me. It was tough to break that chain.”
Price went to a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), where he learned about The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Centers (ARCs).
“I had to do something,” Price said. “I was done. Winter was coming and I had pawned all my winter stuff to stay high.”
Finding a home
In March 2013, Price knocked on the door of the Dayton ARC and was hopeful he had found the help he needed.
“I was so happy to be there, but I was still using,” he said.
Price was there for two months, but when he reached the phase where he could leave the building, he relapsed and was kicked out. He realized he had made a big mistake.
Price was determined not to blow his second chance. He remembers falling on his knees and praying every day for his children and deliverance from his addiction.
“I would pray for God to take away this obsession,” he said. “It took a lot of praying. It didn’t happen overnight.
Giving God glory
“Three months in, I was still thinking about it. One day I woke up—it might have even been a week before I noticed it—the obsession was gone. God had filled that hole and all the anxiety was gone.
“I can’t explain what has happened to me any other way than Christ has healed me. I get teary–eyed anytime I talk about it. The Salvation Army, as an organization, saved my life. I had wanted to end it.”
Price likes to joke that he has remained with the ARC since the Army let him back in. Given his construction background, he was hired as a maintenance supervisor for several ARC facilities in Dayton upon his graduation in January 2014.
“I love what I do and I do it for God,” he said.
He also met his wife Lori, who has a similar recovery background and works with him at the ARC. The couple was married on Valentine’s Day in 2015.
Lori is helping organize Dayton’s churches to fight the heroin scourge.
Price said since coming to the ARC in 2014, he has heard of deaths and seen no less than 10 graduates overdose and die.
The pain of addiction
“It gets harder and harder to take,” he said. “You want to see these folks get better and have inner peace, but then the devil gets that thought in their head, I can use today. Then they die. It’s very sad.”
Price said he and his wife don’t attend meetings of AA or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) because “they don’t talk about Christ.” He said the secular programs he attended failed for the same reason.
“You can’t fight any addiction in your life without Christ or without faith,” he said. “If you don’t give it all to Jesus, you’re still holding on to this thought, I can do this myself. I’ve talked to hundreds of people who say, ‘I can do it myself.’ You can’t do it yourself. I couldn’t do it myself.”
A new creation
Price also doesn’t like to refer to himself as “an addict.”
“I don’t define myself that way anymore,” he said. “I know that He’s healed me. I keep playing that thought back to where heroin took me to and how Christ delivered me. That’s enough for me.”
Price and his wife worship at the Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Dayton and also lead a small group. He attends a Thursday night Bible study, church on Sunday, and is involved in community outreach.
Price, 55, sometimes shares his testimony at the Kroc Center, but “where the rubber meets the road is here at the ARC.” he says.
“I have a great opportunity to show these guys—and I know I’m a little older than some of them—that through Jesus you can get better and you don’t have to live this way any more,” he said. “A lot of them have lost everything two or three times over, like I did.”
Since the overwhelming majority of the ARC beneficiaries are opiate abusers, Price feels at home sharing his story.
“I develop relationships with many of them,” he said. “I take it very seriously because it’s a life and death situation.
“If I see guys who are only here for three meals and a cot, I back off. When I find the guys who are serious, I’ll pull them aside. We’ll talk and we’ll pray together and I’ll tell of my experience and where it took me.
“He healed me. That’s all I can say.”
by Robert Mitchell