Like others who grew up in small towns, Eric always dreamed he’d leave tiny Spencer, Indiana and after finding fame and fortune return to great fanfare. “I had a goal of building an airport there and flying back in a Lear jet,” he says. Instead, he returned in shackles.
Born in Indianapolis in 1967, Eric and his family moved to Spencer when he was a child. In many ways, it was an idyllic childhood. “We had a bell on the back porch and when my Mom rang it, we came running home,” he says.
Eric attended the University of Indianapolis to earn an English teaching degree. In 1990, he moved to Chicago for a more exciting life, a move he now sees as the “first major mistake I made in my life.” It began a string of bad habits that were exacerbated by a stalled career and an increasing focus on earning money.
Eric started a computer-based marketing research business, but couldn’t make it work. He began moving from relationship to relationship, and in 1998, began using Ecstasy. “I started clubbing every night from Thursday through Sunday and spending $75 a night on drugs,” he says.
His money problems appeared to be over after his parents asked him to keep the books for the family business and also landing a lucrative computer consultant position. But Eric had begun using crystal methamphetamine, and in time, he started dealing the drug, too. “It was the beginning of a five-year party,” he says.
The party ended in 2003 after Eric returned to Spencer to turn over the books to his parents for the fiscal year end audit. Suspecting her son wasn’t well, Eric’s mother went through his belongings while he was out and found drugs. On February 27, 2003, Eric’s parents had him arrested.
After posting bond, Eric’s sister gave him an ultimatum: Get treatment or be banished from her – and her sons’ – lives. Eric began visiting treatment facilities, including Fairbanks and La Verna Lodge, a primary and extended care facility for men. “When we pulled up I saw this beautiful place. We walked in and they had a fire in the fireplace, guys were reading and laughing,” Eric remembers. “I felt an immediate connection – it felt like home.”
At first Eric struggled after moving in. “I wondered what I had come to, sleeping on a twin bed in a room with someone else,” he says, “not realizing it was the end of going nowhere.”
Eric stayed at La Verna for 90 days. Slowly, the daily routine of therapy, meetings, household chores, group activities and quiet walks in the woods began to help him “surrender to a life of recovery.” Included were counseling sessions with his parents that helped him understand the pain he caused them, and how to rebuild their relationship.
In 2009, Eric became a registered nurse, and works in a neuro trauma care unit of a local hospital. Always goal oriented, Eric is eager to take the next step in his life, but through his experience at La Verna Lodge, has learned the value of patience.
“Recovery helped me let go of having to plan and do a next step,” Eric says. “I know I can have my ambitions, but I also have to enjoy the gift of today.”