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To the Brink and Back

Heritage Health helps North Idaho man with recovery

By Marc Stewart, Heritage Health

To the Brink and Back

Josh is a different person today than he was five or six years ago.

He talks about his time living on the streets, looking to score drugs and get high like it was just yesterday. The North Idaho man was homeless and hopelessly addicted to drugs and alcohol.

“I grew up in a family of drugs and alcohol,” Josh says. “It’s all I knew. I thank God every day for getting a second chance. I had overdosed a couple of times. I thought I would die and that I would never get out of my addiction.”

The road to sobriety wasn’t easy. Bouncing in and out of jail for years, Josh finally hit rock bottom after he was arrested for assaulting a man.

“I beat up a guy really bad,” says Josh, tears welling up in his eyes. “The guy said something about my family, and I just snapped. I feel horrible about what I did. Fortunately, the judge gave me another chance at life.”

Josh grabbed that last chance and turned his life around with the help of Heritage Health and Josh’s faith in God.

“We went to court to support him,” said Two Feathers, Homeless Outreach worker with Heritage Health. “Josh had been living on the streets and involved in a lot of illicit activity. One day, he decided he didn’t want to live that way anymore. It sounds simple, but it was not simple. He worked very hard to change his life.”

Elaine Dodson, an addiction counselor and case manager for Heritage Health's Restored Paths, said Josh was dealing with mental health issues and addiction issues when he entered the program.

“Josh was really struggling,” she says. “Those mental health issues had to be stabilized. You have to treat the entire person for recovery to be effective."

The Street Medicine Mobile Clinic allowed Kala Hall, a homeless outreach worker with Heritage Health’s Street Medicine program, and Two Feathers to see Josh regularly and meet his needs.

Josh has been clean and sober for over 13 months.

“Josh received wrap-around care from the Restored Paths counselors, physicians and our Street Medicine team,” states Kala. “Everyone played a part in Josh’s recovery. We instilled empowerment, and he was able to take control of his life and make long-lasting changes.

Added Two Feathers, “We never gave up on Josh. It was hard, but Josh wanted it.”

Indeed, Elaine said Josh’s positive attitude fueled his motivation to change. “Josh knew he couldn’t do it alone,” she says. “He’s learned so much, and it’s exciting to see his transformation.”

Today, Josh has his own apartment, a car and a manufacturing job.

“I have great friends in Kala and Two Feathers,” he says. “They have helped me so much.”

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