A vital component of combating the presence of drugs in our community is understanding that behind every drug arrest is a story – a story of someone who has lost their way and a family that has been torn apart by addiction.

Sheriff John Tate’s focus on assisting those struggling with addiction to find lasting recovery is just one step in healing families and giving those stories a chance to have a happy ending. Arrest itself is not an ending. Instead, it can be a new beginning.

Each month, we share a story from individuals who have successfully completed a drug rehabilitative program through the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office and are now enjoying a new, fulfilled life of recovery.

Their journey. Their words. A message of hope for us all.

The February 2021 Spotlight on Recovery story comes from Ty Infinger:

I was born at Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, FL. At 8 lbs, 9 oz., I was born with several problems which had me in the hospital for my first week on this earth, but that I outgrew later in life.

My mom drank and did drugs while she was pregnant with me, and from what my mom and other family members have told me, most of our family struggles with addiction of some kind.

I was the youngest of three. I had a big sister and a big brother. I tend to follow my big brother. I look up to him still to this day.

As kids growing up, we were trying to follow the wrong crowd and got into mischief. My mischief started when I was seven years old and went to a juvenile detention center for stealing stuff out of a car in a junkyard. I can’t remember exactly how long I stayed there, but I know it was the beginning of something that I never really liked.

From an absent father to abuse at the hands of a family member, my childhood was full of things that made it rough.

I lived with my mom, and we had it rough. Broke and with no money, we did everything we could to survive – and I mean anything from stealing to manipulating.

I ran away when I was eight years old, and I ended up in a boys’ home, acting a fool, lost, and not knowing which way I needed to go in life.

I didn’t care about anybody or myself for that matter, and I would dare anybody to try me; I just really did not care at all, one bit. I knew there was a God, but I chose not to believe in God. Instead, I followed Satan, and I was a Luciferian up until recently.

When I turned 18 and graduated the program that DHR had set up for me, I went back to live with my mom. It was then that I started really acting out and doing whatever I wanted because I felt like I was grown.

I knew what I was doing, and no one could stop me. I was lost, not knowing who in the this world was right and who was wrong, and I chose to follow the wrong crowds. I started doing meth and marijuana, or for that matter, any drug that I could get my hands on. I did everything to try to feel accepted into the people I was hanging out with.

It cost me a lot of hurt and pain, but at that time, I didn’t know it. I didn’t really care. I was locked up several times for breaking and entering, criminal mischief, burglary of structures, and the list goes on.

There was a point in time in my life where I just thought that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t dig myself out of the hole I had created for myself. There were several times I decided that this was it; this is all that life had for me, and if this is all that life has for me, I might as well just give up. I tried to take my own life a couple times. I was always either talked out of it, or the suicide attempt went wrong.

I did so much damage in my life that I pushed everyone who loved me away to the point that even when I tried to reach out, no one believed me because I was like the little boy who cried wolf. I cried wolf so many times that when I was really desperately needing someone, nobody believed me, that I wanted to get help.

So I started going my own path for the longest time, lost and not knowing what to do, getting my fix and continuously stealing from those who loved me and those who didn’t even know me. Like I said, I just didn’t care and was just living life recklessly, not knowing it was hurting everyone around me including myself.

All that led to up to one night when I entered a church with the intent to steal. I took several electronics and even two guitars from the church, then lied to my family about where I had been and sold every bit of it for dope.

I later lied to the deputy who came out and questioned me about it – but the deputy came back later and had proof, and right then, I knew I couldn’t run from my problems anymore, that I had gotten as low as I could go.

I told the truth, not just for me, but for my son, and turned myself in at the Holmes County Jail, where I sat for seven months deciding whether or not I should give my life to the Lord. Then one day, I talked to peer counselor John Wayne Searcy, who I had met before but didn’t really listen to the first time, but this time was different. For some reason, I decided to listen, and I opened my heart, and I told him what was going on with me, and I decided while I was in jail to give my life to the Lord and start fresh.

I was eventually accepted into the

St. Matthews program. Yes, it was part of a deal, but I didn’t accept the deal because I was scared to go to prison or because I thought it was the easy way out. No, I accepted that deal because I knew God put that path in my life to transform me into the man that I am today.

As I’m writing this, anybody and everybody that reads it or hears it in person and has seen me, if they really know me, they know that I have changed, and the change in myself was done by God.

Without God, I wouldn’t be standing here. I wouldn’t be living; I wouldn’t be breathing. He gave me a solid foundation loving people, and I’m home. I am now currently in Naples, FL with a full-time job, forever in debt for St Matthew’s saving my life.

I have my own vehicle, I pay my own rent, and I’m in the process of getting my son back. I’ve been sober for the longest time in my life (going on 19 months), and I feel so confident, more than I’ve ever felt in my life.

I’m telling you right now I know that if I can do it, anybody in this world can do it. But the only way you’re going to be able to get over the addiction, the pain, the sorrows, the regrets, anything negative in your life, you have to give that stuff to God. It’s not your battle. The war is already been won. Jesus died on the cross for all of our sins. He paid that price so that we wouldn’t have to struggle. All we have to do is turn to him and follow in his footsteps and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Take it from somebody that’s no different than you: I’ve been through so much, but all the stuff I’ve been through, He has taken and transformed it and brought me out of that hell to show the world that He can take the weakest person and turn them into a soldier, fully armored and ready for war or anything that comes in his path.

He gets all the glory, honor, and praise, and I thank Him every day for saving my life.

This article originally appeared on Washington County News: Spotlight on Recovery: Ty Infinger