Journal & Courier News –
“People need to hear that there’s hope,” Lori said. “Recovery is possible.”
Dock Henry was only 16 years old the first time he tried heroin.
“I’m like, ‘Whoa, this is way better and it lasted longer. This is what I like,’” the now 37-year-old Monticello man recalls, reflecting back on his path to recovery.
He shares his story as part of Indiana’s “Know the Facts” campaign, which aims to raise awareness that addiction is a disease, treatable and recovery is possible.
Henry had smoked marijuana before and was dependent on prescribed painkillers after an injury put him in the hospital when he was 14 years old. But neither gave him a similar feeling like he got after a friend introduced him to heroin.
But after two years, the opioid drug wasn’t enough. Henry began mixing heroin with methamphetamine.
“It was crazy. If I would stop using, I would get sick or what we call ‘dope sick,’” Henry said. “I started getting really sick of flu-like symptoms, but I didn’t know why. And then when I used heroin, I started feeling good.
“So for me in my active addiction, I went full bore. I never wanted to stop and didn’t think I would stop,” said Henry, who during that period of his life, overdosed seven times. “That should have been a wake-up call, but it didn’t slow me down then.”
Henry was in an active drug addition for 21 years.
On Christmas Day 2015, Henry, who was previously arrested for armed robbery, was arrested for a second time when a friend overdosed at his then-Lafayette home.
It was the same day his two oldest children were placed in temporary foster care “with people they didn’t even know.”
“I wish I could say that’s when I stopped, but I didn’t,” Henry said. “I was so selfish.”
Henry continued to use and would go on to fail more than 50 drug tests administered through Indiana Department of Child Services, who still allowed him to participate in supervised visits with his kids.
Henry was placed in treatment and was 40 days clean when he was able to have a second visit with his kids. It was during that visit that his then 7-year-old son said something that brought him “out of the fog” of substance abuse.
“He said, ‘Dad, I’m done being bad. Can I come back home?'”
“This little kid, this little person blamed himself for being in foster care. He blamed himself for everything that I’ve done,” the father said. “For the first time in my life, I cried for someone other than myself. And that was the day that my path to recovery started.”
Henry would go on to attend Narcotics Anonymous and other therapeutic meetings, and lived at the Home with Hope, a facility in Lafayette that provides care often following primary treatment or detox for alcoholism and other drug addictions, for men and women age 18 and older. It was there where he met his wife Lori Henry, who Dock’s kids now call their mom.
“It took me two years, seven months and nine days, and I have sole physical custody of my children now, ” said Dock who today works as a peer recovery coach for Phoenix Recovery Solutions’ quick response team, which responds to overdoses and mental health crises in the community.
He’s celebrating more than four years of sobriety.
Lori’s story: ‘It’s hard to be a person in recovery’
Lori is also celebrating more than four years of sobriety from drug addiction.
When she was young, Lori remembers feeling different.
“I lived in a loving household with great parents, had a great education and life. But I had that black sheep syndrome even as a child. I just felt out of place,” said the 41-year-old, who first started experimenting with drugs, like marijuana, LSD and ecstasy, during her high school years.
In her early-20s, while in a physically abusive marriage, Lori started abusing opiates and alcohol.
“I had both of my legs broken, multiple broken ribs and a broken jaw and I was put into pain management by my doctors … all they would really do was just give you a bunch of painkillers,” Lori said. “They just drugged me up to numb me up so that way I wouldn’t feel all of the trauma that I’d actually been through.”
As the addiction to painkillers worsened, Lori turned to the streets to buy more pills. Eventually, she was introduced to heroin.
In 2015 Lori said she “was basically on my deathbed,” after developing endocarditis, a heart infection that was caused by her using intravenous drugs.
Lori’s sister is a nurse practitioner and was working at the hospital at the time when Lori “barely made it to the emergency room.”
“I weighed 120 pounds, mind you I am 6 feet tall. There was nothing left of me, and I hadn’t seen my sister or talked to my mom in months. They had cut me off because they knew what a bad drug problem I had,” Lori said. “My sister couldn’t believe it when she saw me.
“I remember her coming into my hospital room and saying, ‘Mom’s not going to come see you and dad is just brokenhearted. You have a choice. You can either let us get you into treatment and the help that you need, or we’re really done this time.’”
Lori decided to live and fight her addiction. She went to Sycamore Springs’ detox center in Lafayette. She participated in a 12-step fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous where people outside of the inpatient facility come and share their stories.
“I was sitting there, shaking, sick, sweating, still going through detox, but I was starting to become a little bit more clear,” Lori recalls from the first meeting. “I remember, I wanted what those people had. There’s these people who are identifying as drug addicts, but they’re people in recovery. They’re recovering from this disease and I knew I wanted that. I wanted it so bad.”
Lori eventually moved into YWCA Domestic Violence Intervention Prevention Program (DVIPP) shelter, where she slowly started to rebuild her life.
After living there for about a month, she left and got her own house where she allowed her husband from Kokomo to move in.
“Long story short, he didn’t change. He continued to use and he continued to hurt me,” she recalled. “In March of 2016, he died right in front of me from acute hemorrhagic pancreatitis. He drank himself to death.”
Lori had a setback and started abusing drugs and alcohol again for about three months.
“I couldn’t use the same way again. I’d had a taste of recovery, and I knew how good my life could be without drugs or alcohol in it,” said Lori, who reached out to her sponsor and others in the recovery community for help.
She moved into Home of Hope, and would go on to work as the women’s program intake coordinator and case manager at the facility. It was at that time that she met Dock.
“We weren’t really friends at first. I thought he was the most annoying person I’d ever met in my entire life,” Lori said between laughs. “But he became my best friend in the whole world, and then we eventually fell in love with each other. It’s been a really beautiful journey.
“It’s hard to be a person in recovery and sometimes you feel like you always have that demon on your shoulder. We can make one poor decision and be right back out in an active addiction and it’s a real scary possibility,” she said. “But I’m really grateful and lucky. Dock and I both are because we have amazing support systems. The Lafayette recovery community is thriving.”
Breaking the stigma of addiction
Dock and Lori Henry share their stories as a way to educate, spread awareness and break down the stigmas associated with the disease.
“People are recovering out loud. They’re not quiet about it anymore and are communicating that we are here and we aren’t just this junkie or homeless person,” Lori said. “We are parents. We are husbands. We are wives. We are children. We matter.”
Jim Gavin, director of communications for the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, said the stigma of addiction has prevented hundreds of people with a substance use disorder from getting the treatment they need.
Drug overdose deaths, more specifically opioid-involved deaths, have continued to rise in Indiana and impact people of all races, sexes, ages and locations, according to the Indiana State Department of Health.
The drug epidemic, driven mainly by opioid-involved deaths, has evolved over the last decade in three distinct waves: an increase in prescription opioid-involved deaths, a spike in heroin involved deaths and a surge in synthetic opioid-involved deaths primarily consisting of illicitly manufactured fentanyl.
There were over 1,800 drug overdose deaths in Indiana in 2017, averaging to five Hoosiers a day.
Gavin said he hopes that those figures will decrease and more people struggling with the disease of substance use disorder feel inspired to speak up and seek help after hearing from others who have been in their shoes.
“Being able to show people and introduce them to others in their communities is really key in this campaign,” Gavin said. “These stories are what will help people through their own challenges.”
“Me working in the addiction field, it definitely helps when I share my story. We deal with clients that are out there actively using, trying to get into somewhere,” Dock said. “They might say, ‘Well, you don’t know what I’ve gone through.’ ‘No, you’re right. I don’t know exactly what you went through. But I can empathize with what you’re going through.’”
“People need to hear that there’s hope,” Lori said. “Recovery is possible.”
DID YOU KNOW? Indiana has committed $1.4 million to expand recovery housing for those dealing with substance use disorder. Currently, there are 130 certified recovery residences in the state and counting and more than 1,100 Hoosiers have been served. For more information about treatment and recovery resources, visit www.in.gov/recovery/know-the-facts.Addiction Services Intervention Recovery Assistance Treatment