Faces of Recovery: Jason’s story

Published 10:12 am Thursday, July 12, 2018

This week’s edition of Faces of Recovery, where we focus on local individuals who have overcome addiction, spotlights Jason Roop, originally of Harrogate, Tennessee.

Jason Roop’s story with addiction didn’t begin until college. During his freshman year, Roop stated he drank alcohol and smoked marijuana for the first time, and in the summer of 1996, he took his first Xanax.

“It set off a path of 17 years of active addiction,” he said.

Roop experimented with opioids, methamphetamine, heroin, benzodiazepines and other substances.

“There was always something inside of me that knew something was missing,” said Roop about what sent him down the path of addiction. “I now understand that to be a void that only God could fill. But at the time, I wanted to feel accepted and loved by my peers.

“I wanted to ‘fit in’ and be the ‘cool guy.’ I never thought I could become addicted, but it hit me fast. When I took that first Xanax, it was as though I knew exactly everything I wanted out of life and how to get it. So, I immediately centered my life for the next two decades around chasing that feeling. A few months later I started taking pain pills, and I couldn’t stop.”

Roop described how this was his life during the first 10 years of the 2000s. He recalled ordering pills online from Florida and receiving over 800 pills in the mail that ranged from pain killers, muscle relaxers and Xanax.

Roop recalled losing his job at a Rolls-Royce dealer in Indianapolis for nodding off while on the job.

“When the pharmacy pipeline dried up, I turned to heroin. I always said I would never use a needle. But there I was, running the streets of Indianapolis chasing a needle and a spoon. It was madness,” he said. “I returned home to Tennessee in 2011 and started making ‘friends’ that used meth. That opened up a whole other world of evil. I’ve seen people stabbed in front of me, seen people overdose and nearly died myself.”

Roop described his time as an addict as a “nightmare.” He said he lost everything: his respect, his relationships and his sense of dignity.

“If I didn’t have a pill or shot waiting on me when I woke up the next day, I would have preferred to die instead of waking up. It was that bad,” he said. “There was a complete loss of worth and value. I would do anything to feed the demon of addiction.

“There was no joy in getting high, I just did it to feel normal. Every person, every situation was viewed as to how would this help me get the next fix. It was a vicious cycle of wanting and lack.”

Roop described knowing he needed to seek help when he visited his mother. He was suicidal and thought he needed to be admitted into a psychiatric ward. His mother, who he stated never stopped praying for him since his addiction began, gave him a card for the treatment center Isiah House. When Roop touched the card, he said he knew that was where he needed to be.

Roop’s time in treatment was “hard work” where he had to face his emotional issues head-on. In treatment, Roop found a connection to his faith which gave him strength. He even met his wife during his year-long treatment. Roop graduated from Isiah House in 2013 after being an addict for 17 years of his life.

Roop worked for Isiah House for two years before attending Campbellsville University in the Master of Theology program. Now, Roop is the Director of the Technology Training Center on campus.

“For anyone out there reading this that’s struggling in addiction, don’t lose hope. You can recover. You do have someone that loves you and will transform your ashes into beauty,” he said.