COLUMBUS, Ohio - As a child, Jeffrey Anastasia was bright-eyed and full of hope. But when he was barely a teenager, he took his first steps toward addiction.
"About the age of 13, I started smoking weed and then drinking and obviously that led to other things for me," he said. "I eventually got hooked to opiates, and then, from there, I went to heroin."
And with the drug use came the crime.
"I’ve caught 56 misdemeanors, 7 DUIs, six felonies and 16 driving under suspensions," Anastasia said. "That’s all I used to know was jails and institutions."
His worst crime was actually featured on 10TV back in 2011. He robbed a Speedway while high on crack cocaine and opiates. And things only got worse from there.
"In 2014, I just wanted to die, I just gave up in life, I was just tired of not being a father, not being a husband, not being nothing," he said. "You know, my family gave up on me my dad didn’t talk to me, my brothers. I was homeless with a trash bag full of clothes in 2014."
That's when he found Maryhaven, an addiction recovery and mental health services facility in Columbus.
"My life today, it’s just incredible, I can’t explain it," he said. "But, you know, it’s from Maryhaven. I have so much gratitude for this place. This place saved my life."
Anastasia spent three months at Maryhaven, six months at House of Hope and several more months after that in sober living.
"I think as a man, you know, that was my biggest problem, you know, I had that ego where, I was a man, I didn’t need help, but all I can suggest to any man is reach out and ask for help, you know, there is hope," he said.
And hope is crucial in recovery. Nate Blake knows that personally. He's a peer recovery supporter at Maryhaven and a former client at Maryhaven.
"One of the things I like about my job is that I can have hope for others when they can’t have hope for themselves in that early part," he said. "And then once they are in the process, once they begin to make progress, then they are finding their own hope, and it’s a beautiful thing to see."
He certainly saw the change in himself and was grateful when his loved ones saw it, too.
"A lot of people lost hope in me, gave up on me, but a lot of others didn’t, and, thanks to those, I am now able to give back some of what I got when I was here, and I’m able to instill some of that hope in others who will then in the future go on to do the same," Blake said.
Anastasia is now 5.5 years sober, owns his own business and has a wife and children at home along with a church family.
"There is hope," he said. "Hold on, pain ends. Just reach out and ask for help. You know, you’re not alone. We do this together, we fight daily, on a daily basis just to live, but we do it together."
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