After substance use, prison and homelessness, he’s ‘doing the right thing’

Terry Sadler was sick and tired of being sick and tired.

He’s battled alcoholism and substance use much of his life. He’s been in prison. He’s been homeless. He nearly died in a drunk driving accident. He once owned $2 million in houses and apartment complexes – that he lost due to his drug use.

But today, he’s getting ready to celebrate 19 months of sobriety. He can shop in stores he was once banned from. He’s got a savings account. He’s working on getting a new driver’s license. He has responsibilities and a steady job. And he’s choosing recovery every day.

“I can walk down the street and hold my head up high because I’m doing the right thing instead of feeling ashamed,” he said.

Terry became addicted to substances at an early age. He had tonsilitis often as a child and doctors prescribed codeine – that’s where his addiction started, he says. Then in high school, he started drinking heavily. In his mid-20s, he left a party drunk and hit a tree – throwing him through the windshield, into the tree, and back into the car again. He spent 30 days in a medically induced coma because of his injuries. A year later, he was drinking and driving again. As he got older, he got into harder drugs, like cocaine. But after a bad experience with heroin years ago, he gave up drugs but increased his alcohol use.

“When I quit the drugs, my drinking got out of control. I’d drink two half-gallons of vodka a day,” he said. “I blew a .54 in the hospital – almost seven times the legal limit – and was coherent.”

When he was homeless, he’d steal alcohol. He was banned from countless local stores, and eventually, after passing out in a stranger’s house, he was arrested and charged with burglary in 2021. That was a turning point in his life.

He went to Recovery Works in Merrillville for inpatient treatment, and when he returned to the area, moved to the Upper Room. He completed IOP and Aftercare at Oaklawn. He continues to attend AA meetings three times a week.

“I’m doing good and the cravings are less. I’m not saying I don’t ever think about it, I do,” he said. “But I’m happy with my sobriety. I’m good even with the bad things that happen. Not every day is peaches and cream, it’s far from it.”

Terry’s mom passed away just before Christmas. But he’s gotten through it without the use of alcohol, and he’s glad his mom got to see him sober before she died.

“I’ve made my peace with God and the family I hurt with my addiction,” he said. “I know they’re in heaven and they can see I’m doing good. Sometimes I think maybe there’s a reason I had to go through this, maybe it’s to help people. If I can just help one person, I feel like I’ve had some form of success.”


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