Restoring hope in the face of addiction
QUAKERTOWN, Pa. - Just because something is lost, doesn't mean it can't be found, even when it comes to hope.
Bucks County's Kim Hogan was running low on hope in the midst of her son's heroin addiction.
"I do remember times where I thought he was going to die. I had his funeral planned," Hogan said.
Hogan's 23-year-old son, Jimmy Duffy, started shooting up about four years ago. His battle with addiction has landed him in jail, put him on the streets, and resulted in five overdoses.
"I wasn't even able to stay clean in jail," Duffy said. "There was no deterrence."
About a year ago though, Duffy finally wanted to become clean, but getting help turned out harder than either of them could have ever imagined.
"Treatment costs money, I mean that's a fact," Duffy said. "It's a huge barrier, you try to get into a detox or a rehab, and you don't have the money."
Hogan took a photo of her son laying in a waiting room at a rehab facility, desperate for help. She posted it online to share the harsh reality of addiction and the difficult fight to overcome it.
"I was dope sick, I was gonna run off and go use again," Duffy said.
"That's when I realized I needed to do something about this problem. I wasn't the only one sitting in a rehab facility not being able to get help for my child," Hogan said.
Hogan, who launched an online support group "Hope Against Heroin" when her son started using heroin, decided it was time to take her mission a step further. She started a non-profit, and in March, opened up a thrift store, "Hope ReStored," in downtown Quakertown.
The store helps the non-profit raise money to help people like Andrew Miller. Miller, originally from the Lehigh Valley, started using heroin when he was 17. Eleven years later, he's still paying for that decision.
Paying for help though has been one of his biggest obstacles.
"Some of the barriers for me are financial, insurance, getting into rehabs," Miller said. "I've been in recovery houses before, where if rent was due Friday, if you're ten bucks short, you got to go. It's a huge stress."
That stress, according to Miller, is a big trigger to start using again.
But thanks to Hope Against Heroin, some of that stress was taken away. The non-profit has paid for rent at a recovery home and helped him find his way into a rehabilitation facility. The organization also gives him rides to work, and offers him a strong support system.
He's now four months clean, the longest he's been sober outside of jail.
Duffy is just weeks from his 24th birthday and approaching his ninth month of sobriety. Despite his accomplishment, Duffy admits, the desire isn't gone.
"I still think about using," Duffy said.
It's a temptation that he still struggles with, even the day after he lost a dear friend to overdose.
"It's hard, you know," Duffy said. "They told me, be prepared to go to a lot of funerals when you're clean."
It's that harsh reality that makes his mom's mission so important. Hope ReStored isn't a shop about saving people money, but about saving peoples' lives.
"What we are in is the restoration business, helping people restoring their lives, their souls essentially," Hogan said. "My son said it very well, we can hate heroin all we want, but that's not going to solve the problem. We believe we need to love it away."