With so much negative news about the war on drugs, once in a while , it’s nice to hear about someone who has won their battle with them.
David Hamberlin, 48, of Quanah, Texas has been clean for nearly three years. That’s no small feat since he has been addicted to meth since the age of 19.
Hamberlin was introduced to meth by his best friend, who did not snort it or smoke it but shot it. His first time was in his arm. Hamberlin said that after that he never quit unless he was in jail. It is his opinion that people with emotional problems become addicted
“It helps with what they are running from, I think,” said Hamberlin.
Hamberlin was spending $60 to $100 a day on meth. He got money for this by stealing ATM machines, for which he was sentenced to prison three times, totalling 12 years.
When asked when he decided to quit and why, Hamberlin said “It just sort of happened. Using became monotonous. Failed relationships, jail, prison, friends ratting on eachother or dying. It just got to the point where the normal life didn’t look so bad.”
He had tried court-ordered rehabs, but they never worked. He quit by leaving the state and staying with friends who didn’t use. Then when he came back home, he moved away from everyone he knew and got into church.
“This really was a winning combination and key to my sobriety,” said Hamberlin. “The only real changes I made was moving to another state away from my ‘friends.’ I think that’s the single most important thing you can do to start and keep clean. But you can’t hide from drugs. They are everywhere, in every community. I meet druggies often, but I don’t befriend them. The catch is, if you are willing to move away from everyone you know, then you’re probablyat the point in your life where staying clean isn’t gonna be that hard. It’s taking that huge step alone that’s hard.”
Hamberlin thinks that most addicts are ashamed of their addiction, so they avoid family members.
“Except my dad, he was a biker and I was always up front with what I did,” he said. “He was the only one who stuck by me. The rest of my family I avoided except around Christmas time. I felt obligated to make a showing then.”
Hamberlin was also a pretty popular guy in high school but as he got into drugs, friends slowly fell away.
Asked about regrets, Hamberlin had this to say:
“I’m not the type of person to feel regret, really. You mess up all the time being an addict, so you learn to move on and forget it. But I guess BMX is my regret. Not once did I not place in the top three in every race. I always trophied. But I couldn’t be an addict and race. I loved riding so I got into riding ramps and pools. I dropped racing, but could still fulfill my love of riding and not be around crowds of people watching. But I could have went much further in my pro career had I not used.”
The biggest change in his life has been how other things are more important now.
“Before, scoring dope was everyday’s main focus. Now my main problems are like wondering if I should stand in line to get a TV on Black Friday or pay someone to stand there for me,” he said.
Asked what keeps him from using now that he is clean, Hamberlin said “It’s hard to say. I’ve pushed the memories of that lifestyle so far back that I don’t even think about that part of me. I just focus on work, hanging out with my dog and getting back into BMX riding”
Years of meth use have taken a toll on Hamberlin’s health.
“My heart is kind of worn out. Overworked. I take two different kinds of meds. I’ve lost three friends this year alone due to heart attacks. All who were ex-users in their late 30s, early 40s.”
Hamberlin also had this to say about giving advice to young people about drugs:
“I’m sorry to say that I don’t think there’s advice you can give. All kids know the risk of using drugs now. It’s taught in school now and on TV. So most kids that use now have an underlying issue that none of my advice is going to make any difference. But any attention is good attention, and I’ll always be there to help anyone who’s willing to listen.”
“In closing, I’ll tell you that drugs will only wreck any dreams you have. Your friends will be drug addicts, too, so not only do you have to worry about the cops getting you, you gotta worry about your friends getting you, too. It’s a dark world, where there is no light. You’re in that tunnel, but you will never find light at the end until you get clean. People Facebook me often for tips about a loved one on drugs, and I am always there in that area because I know what can happen when there’s not.”
David Hamberlin in a mugshot(left) before becoming clean and after at work(right)
Hamberlin in mid-air
Hamberlin and his best friend Yogi.