By Kristen Cervenak
Elwood C. Himmel, Sr., a senior resident at Easy Does It, Inc. (EDI), gives back everything that he receives. Battling addiction since 1989, he found himself wrapped up with crack cocaine. Regardless of the difficult fate he was given, he finds strength and happiness in helping other people who struggle with addictions.
“We’re good people; we’re just sick and getting better,” he points out.
Immediately after he was introduced crack cocaine, Himmel began to sell it. This landed him in prison for selling to an undercover police officer. After getting out of prison, he was clean for seven years. In the midst of divorce, his wife was also sent to prison on conspiracy even though she had never used drugs. Since 1997, he has been to rehab 17 times, including four times at EDI. After a couple of DUIs, he lost his commercial driver’s license for life.
“This time around, I went to Hillside in the Poconos. The day I entered in there, September 9, my BAC was .44 and I was unconscious. They couldn’t revive me and sent me to the hospital. I woke up with IVs in my arms and I almost killed myself from that. I went to detox, got out of the hospital. I guess the second or third day in,” he said, “I finally had a spiritual awakening. I’ve always been a Christian and believed in a higher power. I dropped to my knees and said, ‘I am going to either die from my disease of crack and alcoholism or help me.’ From that day forward, completely having an open mind, I surrendered this time. God has been working in my honor since.”
After two months there, Himmel went to a halfway house for three months in Tyrone, Pennsylvania. He said God brought him back to EDI. He now has a home group, a sponsor, and support network.
“God led me to where I’m at, and everything I’ve been through in my life and my addiction, I had to go through to get to where I’m at,” he said.
I finally had a spiritual awakening. I’ve always been a Christian and believed in a higher power. I dropped to my knees and said, ‘I am going to either die from my disease of crack and alcoholism or help me.
Two of Himmel’s four children suffer from addiction to heroin. When they were young, Himmels’ mother took care of them. She recently passed away.
“She died but, because I was clean and sober, I was able to be there for her. The last three days, I was by her side, and I was able to let her know everything I needed to tell her,” Himmel said. “She was proud of me and always was by my side. I was with her when she took her last breath. I wouldn’t have that if I wasn’t sober and clean. I believe she’s watching down on me.”
Even with a hard life, Himmel didn’t give up.
“I’ve given away; I haven’t lost. I have given away everything that I owned for my addiction. At one time I owned three houses, was a successful tractor-trailer driver, made $60,000 a year, all of my houses were completely paid off, and my disease took it all away from me,” Himmel said. “I’m 47 years old now and I don’t want to live like that. I don’t want this life anymore. I have seven grandchildren and one on the way. I want to be there for them and be there for my children and the rest of my family. I wouldn’t want to let my mother down, either.”
One way Himmel plans to help others is through his friend Kevin Kolb’s program, Sick Recovery Racing, LLC. The program helps motocross racers who suffer from addiction by allowing them to continue racing while still in recovery. Himmel’s goal is to become a life coach for the program and help with the website’s radio show, “Sick Radio.”
“It’s growing and I’m just grateful that I can be a part of it,” Himmel said. “Helping other addicts and alcoholics keeps me clean and sober.”