Addiction is a difficult thing to kick. The human brain and the ego are so powerful that changing addictive behavior can seem hopelessly impossible for many addicts. The key is to never give up.
That is exactly was Earl Miller did for drug addict Dan Hollifield. Individuals, when trying to kick an addiction by themselves can have a very rough road, especially if they have relapsed multiple times already. Their ego already is convinced that the attempts to stop the addictive behavior is only temporary.
That’s why it is good to have a partner and programs like Alcoholics Anonymous increase the chance of a successful recovery from alcoholism. For Miller, the best things he's received from people like Hollifield are to help them stop using, and then watch them succeed.
"It's the best gift a man can get. It's the greatest gift," Miller said.
Those gifts have been forefront as Miller, the founder and personality behind Benicia's primary recovery program, prepares to hand the reins over.
After nearly 20 years and helping more than 6,000 people quit the drug and alcohol habit, Miller is moving from Benicia and setting up permanent residence in Mexico. Miller founded the Reach Out Benicia program in 1992, two years after kicking his own drug habit. He's moving to Mexico primarily for health reasons.
The weekly sessions have drawn large groups of youth and adults of all ages who struggle to stop using marijuana, alcohol, methamphetamine and prescription pain bills.
After donating an estimated 2,500 pizzas over the years for the Monday night sessions, Pacifica Pizza owner Jeff Cromer said Miller has made invaluable contributions to the community.
Hollifield said Miller helped pay his college classes and books and even covered his bridge tolls. The former crank dealer and manufacturer said Miller stepped in five years ago when he was out of prison on parole and about to start using drugs again.
Hollifield's now one class away from obtaining his drug and alcohol certification which will allow him to counsel. Sober for five years, he plans to help run regular recovery groups for those who have benefited from Reach Out.
Health issues this past year made Miller realize his body and mind needed a rest, he said. Both he and his wife, Jane Cooper, now live about 30 miles north of Puerto Vallarta where they have a five-room hotel and boutique.
Reach Out began when Miller said his wife and another woman were alarmed by the large number of meth addicts in town in the early 1990s. They asked him if he would sit in on a group to talk about the issue.
It has been said that it is in giving that we receive. Helping someone overcome an addiction is one of the most rewarding things a former addict can do. The feeling of self-worth it generates is unlike any other.