EDITOR'S NOTE: This is part of a periodic series of articles examining the lives of people who have battled with addiction to drugs.
HUNTINGTON - On a cold night several years ago, John Thompson and a buddy who was also homeless had scrounged up enough money by panhandling to purchase a case of beer.
"It was January and snowing," he said. "We drank some of them, and it got late so we passed out. I woke up. It was about 4 in the morning and it was cold, the fire had gone out. I went to go get one of those beers to maybe warm me up, but they were frozen solid. So I built a fire and stood them up along the fire and let them get warm before I got warm. That's what kind of thinking you have. That was more important than me getting warm."
Thompson's life today is a far cry from the life he lived before - a life of self-medicating underlying issues such as depression. Thompson, 42, spent half of his life injecting heroin, living under bridges, hustling, and eating out of dumpsters.
"There is nothing worse than being sick," Thompson said. "You do stuff you never would. You turn into someone where you don't even know who you are. You live your life second to second, you know?"
Fully into his addiction, he was doing one gram of heroin a day.
To make money, he sold heroin, which led him into a situation where he was shot. That incident, however, led him to recovery after the hospital referred him to Prestera Center, where he entered the Suboxone program. That was four years ago.
"You need support," Thompson said. "There are underlying issues you need to deal with. I had been through rehab, I had done all that junk, but just staying clean - there are other things you need to do in life. You've got mental health issues or something. Something has caused you to get where you are at. That's what I needed. The Suboxone, that's great, but you have to have support."
Thompson said mental health has been the most important part of his recovery journey.
"You get depressed so you self-medicate," he said. "You're not schooled in maybe you should see a therapist. You don't know that, but you know alcohol or drugs, you know that will take care of it. Coming here opens your eyes and you get that help."
Prestera also helped Thompson regain his physical health. Being referred to a doctor through the center, he was able to receive medication to cure his hepatitis C, which he contracted during his time using needles.
Today, Thompson is off the streets. He is a homeowner and supports himself working construction.
He said his goal is to finish the Suboxone program and begin Vivitrol, which is a once-monthly shot that blocks the opioid receptors in the brain. Unlike Suboxone, Vivitrol is does not contain opioids.
Most importantly, he said he hopes to mend his relationships with his family.
Follow reporter Taylor Stuck on Twitter @TaylorStuckHD.