There are over 20.6 million people in the United States living with an addiction.
And 100 people die every day from an overdose. That's according to Addiction Center.
What started as a Facebook post asking if people would share their story, turned into an overwhelming response by recovering addicts. Six people--all from different backgrounds--have the same thing in common. They're all recovering addicts who battle their addiction every day.
As they show you in this KHQA exclusive, it is not an easy process but one that has changed their lives for the better.
Addiction does not discriminate.
“It becomes the number one priority.”
“It morphs into all different kinds of things.”
"I was addicted to meth for over 30 years."
"I was going to lose my daughter."
"Our story's the same. The only thing that changes is the characters and the location."
"I didn't want that life anymore."
Wayne Gilliland is a counselor at Preferred Family Healthcare in Quincy and a recovering addict.
Gilliland says hitting rock bottom forced him to get help.
"I believe in progression of the disease of addiction. It means that what alcohol once did for me, what alcohol and marijuana once did for me, it loses its effectiveness,” Gilliland explained.
Gilliland says he’s been in recovery since 2008.
"We may always be an addict but we are not always in active addiction. It is a condition of the mind that it does overpower you, it does change the way you rationalize things and it becomes the number one priority," Gilliland said.
He says addiction affects everyone.
"Those are somebody's sons, daughters, husbands, wives, aunts, uncles. Those are somebody that's important to somebody out there that continues to suffer right along with them," Gilliland said.
And Gilliland says recovery is a form of co-dependence.
"Helping others is what helps me continue on the path to sobriety," Gilliland stated.
Gordon Dobey was one of those addicts.
"Recovery is a lifestyle," Dobey said.
He first sought help at Preferred Family Healthcare.
"There's things that I've done that I'm embarrassed, I'm ashamed of. There's things that I've done that I probably shouldn't be sitting talking to you right now, I should be dead,” Dobey recalled.
Dobey started a fellowship called Recovery Anonymous. Unlike other fellowships, the group is vocal about their struggles.
"A lot of us contact each other multiple times a day. We're more of a family setting than a program setting. Recovery is not a one and done type situation. Recovery is something that you have to work at," Dobey said.
Dobey says recovery is not easy.
"Before I got involved in recovery I never identified myself as an addict. I was a functioning, using, individual. It may not work the first time but if you keep coming back you stick and stay, you get in where you fit in, all those clichés out there, it eventually does work," Dobey said.
Dobey’s wife Lindsey Gooding is also a recovering addict.
"My addiction started around when I was 15 years old. It started out with drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana. Progressed to meth and cocaine and ended with fentanyl," Gooding said.
She says her wake-up call was when she almost lost her daughter to DCFS.
"Growing up I came from a normal household. I had a good childhood. I had great parents. My parents were pillars in the community but I chose to make bad decisions in the beginning and it took over. I traded one addiction for another addiction for 20 years."
After 18 months of sobriety, Gooding relapsed. She’s been clean for over 60 days and says she’s hopeful.
"People who are in recovery are changing their lives for the better and so you don't have to be ashamed about that. We may always be an addict but we are not always in active addiction," Gooding said.
Kelle Neese is a recovering addict also in RA.
Neese says she turned to meth as a way of coping with a bad marriage.
"I was addicted to meth for over 30 years. The longer you're in it, the easier it is to get it, until it isn't anymore then the harder it is to get it. Hence the theft, the deceit. It's all a part of the game,” Neese said.
At the height of her addiction she lost custody of her children.
"I have three children that I lost because of my addiction but they do still know me as mom and I saw them every day because my parents had them," Neese stated.
Now that she’s in recovery, Neese says she has a great relationship with her family.
"I have thirteen grandkids that I see quite often. There is life after addiction through recovery," Neese said.
Sid Ballenger had a rough childhood.
"I started off as a drinker, probably about 9 and then it just went from there. As a child I was abused, broken home. I was molested. I was physically, mentally abused, until the age of 12. When I share that story at the rehab I have so many guys say man I didn't think I could ever talk about it," Ballenger said.
After doing time in jail, Ballenger says he knew he needed to find help.
"No matter how big the pain is that you're carrying, you've got to let it out. You've got to own it and not let it own you," Ballenger said.
RA was his saving grace.
"When I walked through the doors I was broken down, I was tired and I truly wanted to find a new way of life. We're not just the junkie laying in the street anymore. There's doctors and lawyers. There's white collar addicts that hide it really well. It is a lot of hard work but once we find that way, it just gets better," Ballenger explained.
Brittney Reuther is a recovering alcoholic.
"Shortly after starting school and starting a job, I just started drinking heavily. For me, I just can't go to the bar and have two drinks. I'm going to have 25 drinks," Reuther said.
Reuther hasn’t touched a drink in three years.
"I was a manipulator, a liar. Everything you could be. I didn't care what people thought. I didn't care what my family thought. I need to drink that's who I was. It was a part of me. It consumed my life," Reuther explained.
The Bowling Green native sought help after being given an ultimatum by her husband—seek help or lose everything.
"You're not stuck in life, no matter what path you choose. There's always going to be a dark path but you're going to learn from that path," Reuther said.
If you or someone you love is battling addiction, we have listed a number of resources below.