Coming Full Circle, a New Person: Mike's Story

"...she leaned over me with pure compassion and it finally gave me the sense that I had found people and an organization that I could trust.”

Mike H had it all: family, career and a home. But he lost everything to his opioid addiction.

“Fifteen years ago, I was quite successful with a master’s degree,” says Mike. “I was a popular science and biology teacher in the Gresham-Barlow school district.” But everything changed when he was diagnosed with lupus in the 90s; the protocol at the time was prescribed opioids.

“Within a few years, I was severely addicted,” he says. “It altered my moral compass. I ended up losing my home, my relationship with my kids, my career and myself. I attempted treatment several times but the addiction progressed. I just kept spiraling down, in and out of homelessness. I lost my self-respect and will to live. I came from a pretty prominent family and everyone knew my downfall.”

Mike finally saw a phone number for Central City Concern’s (CCC) Eastside Concern, which provides a wide range of substance use disorder treatment and recovery services. His doctor there was Rachel Solotaroff, M.D., now CCC’s president and CEO. “The first time I saw Rachel, she leaned over me with pure compassion and it finally gave me the sense that I had found people and an organization that I could trust,” Mike says. “That gave me hope. I finally had the strength and support to face my addiction and get better.”

"I came from a pretty prominent family and everyone knew my downfall.”

Mike also found housing in CCC’s recovery housing program. The housing stability he found early on gave him the opportunity to focus on his new recovery. Now, after more than a year clean, he’s employed and has his self-respect back. His kids are proud of him and he’s not sleeping on cardboard anymore. In Nov. 2017, he spoke at the Blackburn Center groundbreaking, on the very corner where he used to buy drugs.

“I am so full of gratitude and momentum to help others,” he said to the large crowd. “To me, this building represents hope, opportunity, transformation and a safer neighborhood. I feel like I’ve come full circle on this corner, from buying drugs here to becoming a member of the CCC family.”