PLAINFIELD — Elliot Hughes says he is just blessed to be alive.
"I've overdosed, probably, 10 plus times," Hughes said.
The Plainfield native grew up like many Hoosier kids, going to church with his family. His mom was a school teacher. He played sports.
And like many teens, he started using drugs and alcohol at a young age.
"I started using drugs and alcohol at like age 14, and that was just in high school, and it started out with marijuana and alcohol," Hughes said. "And over the years it progressed to more and harder things."
Hughes had a shoulder injury his senior year and was prescribed pain killers.
"Heroin came onto the scene, and that replaced the pain killers I was prescribed and that really took over my life at that point," he said.
His addiction progressed over time. He overdosed and spent time in both rehab and jail.
Then another drug came into his life and he stumbled own an even more slippery slope.
"That took me to places that heroin never took me," Hughes said. "I mean, meth-induced psychosis, seeing manifestations of demons."
And then teen who used alcohol and marijuana became a man with many demons.
"Like that was me, homeless. Addicted," he said.
There was, however, a bright spot in his life. The woman who is now his wife stuck by his side through many of these troubled times.
Hannah was engaged at one point to Hughes and the wedding fell through due to some of his choices and struggles.
She went overseas on a long mission trip that was eventually halted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"She's overseas serving the Lord, and I'm in hotel rooms addicted to meth," said Hughes, who added Hannah stuck by his side through much of this despite his struggles.
"I wasn't on a winning streak, so it didn't really make sense," Hughes said. "The only explanation was it was God."
As she returned from her trip due to the pandemic, she called Hughes, who happened to be in a hotel room with drugs in hand.
This was March 2020, and Hughes' life changes drastically that day.
One phone call, and he put his faith back in Jesus.
"It took me 45 minutes on my hands and knees in this hotel room, with a bag of drugs next to my head, and I gave my life to Jesus on that hotel room floor," Hughes said. "And at that point, something changed. It's like peace entered the room."
Hughes has been clean ever since.
"I picked up the drugs flushed them down the toilet," he said.
And now, he uses his new-found faith in Jesus Christ to inspire other men like him to change for the better.
His mom founded a nonprofit organization called Waymaker Inc. in Plainfield. She turned her family home into a residence for men who are recovering from addiction.
Hughes is the programming director. His wife and sister also have roles within the organization as their lives were also touched by his addiction.
"We get the opportunity to help lead up to 12 men at a time to freedom from addiction by leading them to Jesus," Hughes said. "And teaching them the practical life skills like budgeting, and how to do chores and clean up after yourself, and go to work and pay rent."
The men live inside the residence and follow certain guidelines and rules, but they are met with so much support.
Volunteers come to lead training, retreats and Bible studies. Police volunteer time to drive the men to appointments. They go to work and take care of the house.Their families can visit and they are often reunited with children.
A house once filled with arguments about Hughes' addiction, the space where overdoses happened, is now a space for growth and healing.
"Addiction impacted this home," Hughes said. "I mean, I even had overdosed in this house and my mom had to use Narcan, which is a life-saving opioid overdose reversal drug, and I mean, in a bathroom in this house."
Hughes said seeing victories in Christ and seeing these men make positive changes in their lives makes all of this worth it, but he couldn't have done it alone.
"You start seeing this victories in real life and that's, those are the things that remind you of why we do what we do" says Hughes. "And in the role that I'm in, what that means to me, is it's just Jesus."
Waymaker Inc. first opened in February 2021. Right now, they serve men, but they hope to expand and create another facility in the future to serve as a female residence because they get so many calls for support for women as well in Hendricks County.
Hughes said their greatest need right now is prayer.
He also said he wants people like him to know it is never too late to get help, and you were created for a purpose and your life matters.
To get in touch with Hughes and Waymaker Inc. you can visit their website https://www.waymakerinc.org/
WRTV also compiled a list of resources if you or someone you know needs help battling the disease of addiction:
- If you or someone you know is dealing with a substance use-related emergency, call 911.
- For more information on a recovery organization near you, you can visit the Indiana Recovery Network website.
- You can call 211 for help 24/7 in Indiana.
- You can call the Indiana Addiction Hotline at 1-800-622-HELP (4357).