Nampa man overcomes drug addiction, inspires others

Andrew now volunteers at the Lighthouse program, in addition to the Boys and Girls Club. His dream is to be a pediatrician. (Courtesy Andrew Barrios).

For Andrew Barrios, finding the verses of 1 Timonth 4:14 saved his life.

After years he was struggling with drugs, he flipped open his mother's Bible in desperation. He says the words he found, cut right to his soul.

"I literally flipped to one of the pages, and I kid you not, just started reading. It changed my life forever," he said.

Barrios said the words encouraging him to not neglect his gifts and talents spoke to him during a rough path in his life.

During his high school years, he was on a path headed straight for destruction.

"I was exposed to partying and drinking. Then right before my senior year...I started dealing drugs," said Barrios.

Pills turned into cocaine, and cocaine led to black tar heroin. Andrew said he was drowning in his addiction, with his future looking bleak.

"People who have struggled with heroin are either in prison or dead," he said. "I should be in one of those categories."

Barrios was offered a spot at Lighthouse in Nampa but wasn't sure if it was for him. Run by the Boise Rescue Mission, the drug and alcohol rehabilitation program takes about 1 to 2 years to complete with education, counseling, and tools to stay addiction free. Barrios said reading that verse was a sign he should be there.

But the path ahead wasn't always simple.

"I was taking a risk," he said. "I didn't know what would happen. But I knew what was on the line was my life."

Adjusting to the schedule, suffering withdraws and coming face-to-face with personal demons are some of the struggles program manager Dave Nelson sees in programmers.

"It's not easy," said Nelson. "No body thinks that they are going to be in a homeless shelter--no matter what age you are---going through a drug and alcohol program."

The intense program forced Barrios to come to wrestle with his addiction, and the heart of who he was. It also meant confronting painful memories he tried to forget.

"It was kinda rough you know," said Barrios. "I was molested as a young child, and a lot of confusion there. I was also heavy set, so picked on a lot."

With work, Barrios began to thrive. After graduating from the program, he enrolled in college. He is now going to Northwest Nazarene University, studying to become a doctor. He says the Boise Rescue Mission helped him see what he was capable of.

"A lot of people saw my potential before I did," said Barrios. "They believed in me before I believed in myself."

It's what Andrew now pays it foreword. He volunteers with the new guys in the program, offering them advice and support. It's something that inspires Nelson.

"It means a lot," said Nelson. "It means we have someone else who didn't end up a bad story. And somebody who can look someone in the eye who went through those same things and say--I've been there. There's hope."

Nelson says that he often uses Barrios as examples in classes--showing other programmers what's possible.

" It's unbelievable that you get to be apart of that,"said Nelson. "It's very honoring"

Barrios says his hope and redemption in his second chance all comes down to his faith.

"I need to give credit where credit is due," he said. "And there's a big man upstairs that's been looking out for me since day one. That's my answer: God."

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