Heroin users go from 'Addict to Athlete'

Heroin users go from 'Addict to Athlete'

PUEBLO, Colo. - Erik Rutherford craves an intense workout like he craved heroin nine months ago.

"It's just a way of life that I'm so done being a part of," he said.

Rutherford, 31, moved to Pueblo six years ago to recover from his opiate addiction. It was in Pueblo that his addiction to heroin began. "I moved up here to Pueblo and two days later I had a needle in my arm full of heroin," Rutherford said.

His addiction landed him in jail and eventually left him homeless. While he was in rehab, he met Rob Archuleta, founder of Addict to Athlete. Rutherford credits Archuleta and the program with saving his life. The program helps addicts get sober through exercise and support groups.

"When you stop doing drugs, every addict freaks out because they're like well what do I do now? What do I do now?"

The time Rutherford used to spend on stealing and getting high, he now spends on exercising three to four times a week. Before he joined the program, he says he didn't care about his health or his body. 

Rutherford said, "I was playing Russian Roulette every day with a syringe," 

He's been sober for nine months. He considers the people he's met through Addict to Athlete to be his family. The youngest recovering addict in the group is 14-years-old.

"We really have no time at all to even think about getting high cause if you think about getting high, there's always somebody either texting you, talking to you, just constantly talking about recovering," said Christopher Martinez, 14. He joined the group to get help for his marijuana and opiate addiction.

Robert Acuña, 18, is the group's second-youngest member. He's working on getting clean from meth and heroin. "Erase the drug and replace it with something positive."

Rutherford said it's his support group and redirected focus that's keeping him in check.

Parkview Medical Center is hosting a discussion on heroin March 11 that will include presentations by emergency doctors, drug counselors and recovering heroin addicts, including Rutherford. The meeting will be held in the hospital's Rosemount Room from 6 to 7:30 p.m. 

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