LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – For many people who become addicted to drugs, there are often two results: jail or death. Thankfully, many others recover and live a life of sobriety. Sometimes, though, it takes losing everything to get there.
For one Arkansas man, it’s not what he lost, but instead what he gained, that changed his life forever.
Kyle Thompson is an easy-going and funny 28-year-old who, simply put, loves life.
“I’m super grateful for it because I don’t deserve it at all,” Thompson said.
That’s because the road to get here has been anything but easy.
Laura Monteverdi: “How many times have you overdosed?”
Kyle Thompson: “Well over 15 to 20 times. I should either be dead or in prison for the rest of my life.”
Since he was a kid, Thompson struggled with addiction and a life of crime. It was a cycle he couldn’t seem to fight his way out of.
“I had gotten so tired of my reality that I wanted to do anything that I possibly could to change it,” he explained.
In October 2021, a fentanyl overdose that should have taken his life instead took his legs.
“I was on my couch, and I had slumped forward, and I was sitting on top of my legs. My heels were on my back, and I laid like that for 13 hours by myself before somebody found me,” Thompson recalled. “Man, I really thought my life was over.”
However, what many would see as an awakening instead propelled Thompson even deeper into his addiction.
“I thought, ‘How am I going to raise my son?’ ‘How is my son going to feel if his dad is in a wheelchair?’” Thompson said. “In my brain, now I have a concrete excuse to get high. That’s where my mind went. Self-confidence. Self-esteem. Everything gone immediately.”
It wasn’t until a year later that Thompson finally hit his rock bottom.
“I had successfully pushed away loved ones as far as I could get them and I sat there alone by my choice,” he said. “It was me. The shame. The regret. The guilt and my drugs.”
For the first time in his addiction, his mind was clear.
“I had a breakthrough moment. I was like okay, I’m going to try it somebody else’s way,” Thompson said.
That alternate path led him to the Nehemiah House in Little Rock, a drug and alcohol recovery program for men. Thompson has spent the last several months there focusing on his sobriety.
“I’ve done some really tough things here and I’ve had some of the best moments I’ve had in recovery here,” he said.
He mans the front desk and serves as an inspiration to those walking through the door for the first time.
“You can’t just miss his heart. He’s got the biggest heart, especially for people and these other men that are in recovery,” Nehemiah House director of residential client services Jeremy Burton said.
Thompson said each day he discovers the joys a life of sobriety holds and laughs at the benefits of not having legs.
“Now I never have to clip my toenails again,” Thompson laughed.
He takes on new challenges, both physical and mental.
Laura Monteverdi: “What do you do to make sure that you don’t go back down that path again?
Kyle Thompson: “I do the best I can with the tools that I’ve been given. It’s like taking your medication every day. You stop taking your medication, you’re going to feel the side effects of what it’s like not taking it. It’s that maintenance of yourself.”
The real change isn’t on the outside. It’s what you can’t see that’s the biggest change of all.
“I have been in some tough spots where I thought there was no hope. There is always hope,” Thompson said.
Thompson said his goal is to graduate the program and then work for the Nehemiah House.