Former heroin addict shares story of loss, recovery - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Former heroin addict shares story of loss, recovery

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Ralph Ables has since made the Shoals his home after completing rehab. Ralph Ables has since made the Shoals his home after completing rehab.
FLORENCE, AL (WAFF) -

A nationwide spike in heroin use has raised concerns in the Tennessee Valley. The City of Florence has attributed four deaths in the last two weeks to heroin overdoses.

A recovering addict who sought treatment in the Shoals shared his story. Ralph Ables had the world at his fingertips – a college graduate and former teacher, Ables said it all slipped away after his first hit of heroin.

"I tried it once, loved it, and decided I wanted to do it every day from then on. For the next four or five years, it was my whole life," he said.

As Ables' tolerance to the drug started to build, so did the cost. "My habit when I started was $20-40 a day, and then towards the end it would be $300 or $400 a day, getting up close to probably two grams of heroin a day,' he said.

The cost did not just involve money. He lost his job, his girlfriend, and his home. "I realized I was losing all these things, but they didn't really seem to matter as much as the drug, so I wound up homeless and sleeping outside for two years. I would hold a sign by the interstate to beg for money to be able to get heroin," Ables recalled.

Ables spent several years chasing the initial high, trying to recapture the feeling. He said something clicked one day – and that's when he decided it was time for a change.

"If I was going to change this, if I was going to live this way anymore, then I had to do something about it. I had to be willing to do whatever to change the way I was living," he said.

The change included a long and painful withdrawal process. "It's like being sick with the flu times 100," he described.

Ables checked into rehab in the Shoals. "One of the things that attracted me to Florence is I heard it wasn't really around here three years ago, it wasn't that prevalent. Unfortunately, things have a way of showing up," he added.

Ralph Ables has since made the Shoals his home after completing rehab. He just celebrated his third year of sobriety last month.

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