KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — East Tennesseans continue to struggle with addiction to opioids. The epidemic leaves many feeling hopeless with seemingly no way to get off the powerful drugs.

Justin Casevechia not only stopped using drugs, but he has dedicated his life to helping others. He’s in his car every day as part of business development at addiction treatment center English Mountain Recovery.

As a little boy, he doted on his older brother, a brother who died in a car crash.

“I don’t think any nine-year-old boy is expecting or understands what loss is, loss of a loved one,” Casevechia said. “So when my brother passed away, I didn’t really know how to cope with that.”

At the age of 15, Justin started experimenting with drugs and started using them on a daily basis.

“Looking back on it, I lost pretty much every job I had in high school due to some form of drug use,” Justin said. “I didn’t think anything of it at the time. You know, I barely graduated. I just wasn’t motivated to do anything.”

And then there was the day he hid from officers after violating probation on a drug charge.

“You don’t forget what the sound of a police officer knocking on your door sounds like, and I immediately hid,” he said. “I didn’t know where to go so I got in the air vent, the twenty-four-by-twenty-six (inch), whatever filters are.

“I was just tucked in a little ball and that’s when it kind of hit me, ‘Is it gonna take hiding in a vent from the police with a pocket full of drugs? And I hate life.'”

At that moment, Justin made a decision that very likely saved his life. 

“I came out, and I just told them, ’Here I am.’“

Now a husband and father, Justin is working every day in the addiction treatment arena. He says if you’re struggling right now, talk to someone. 

STAY INFORMED: Download: the WATE 6 On Your Side News and Weather Apps