Listen to Richard's story

Richard doesn’t sugarcoat his past. “My whole life has been drugs, alcohol, prison.” He connects the end of each of his three marriages and his six stints in prison directly to his addiction. It’s a life that might seem out of sync with his upbringing: riding horses in horse shows, working in his father’s restaurant at age eleven, and owning his own construction business for fifteen years. But through it all, there was the drinking and the cocaine. “I loved cocaine more than my family,” he says. “I always told people if I could marry it, I would. I just took my life completely over.”

All the drinking and drug use has taken a physical, as well as emotional and financial toll on Richard. He’s had two heart attacks, two strokes, and more mini-strokes than the doctor’s can count. He has gallstones and cirrhosis of the liver and excessive belly weight. Worst of all for his construction work is the damage to his knees. “My doctor told me that with my cocaine use that I was doing for so long, that it eats the cartilage in your joints. Between that and the climbing and the roofing they just gave out.”

He’s been through rehab a few times, but this time he’s got additional support: God. “When I came out of prison last time, which was in 2013, after my dad passed away, I had that urge to get back into the church. Because I was just tired and beat down and old, and I just couldn’t go no more. So I back involved in church. With the biker ministry, I got my head straight.” While he can’t drive a car, his scooter provides him some degree of independence, a powerful part of his journey to sobriety and self-sufficiency. Todays, he’s proud he’s not drinking. “I know it’s a daily thing with an alcoholic, and there’s a good many days behind me now. Every morning I pray to God that he’ll keep me sober that day and at night thank him for keeping me sober.”

Interviewed by Sara Beth Puckett, 2015. Photographed by Trina Holt, 2015