by Craig Dirkes
David Schroedl never dreamed he’d become addicted to crystal methamphetamine. Yet, it happened. The drug wormed its way into his life and almost destroyed him. Until five years ago, David played by the rules. He worked as a chemist at a waste treatment facility and lived in the northern Twin Cities suburbs with his wife and son. But everything began to change in 2010 after his wife underwent a series of medical operations and dental procedures. She became addicted to painkillers, which eventually gave way to opiates and other illegal drugs. Drugs took over her life. Slowly but surely, their bank account began to drain, and their marriage began to crumble. In 2013, they divorced.
In December 2014, David and his son were living with David’s mother in Blaine. Although they were divorced, David didn’t want to give up hope that their family could be salvaged, so he met his ex-wife at her home. She asked if he wanted to smoke meth; he agreed.
“I don’t know what I was thinking,” he recalled. “Maybe I thought that doing drugs with her would help us bond.”
Just like that, David was hooked. He continued to buy meth from his ex on a regular basis, ingesting small amounts of the drug daily and spending about $25 per week.
By late 2015, David had found his own drug supplier and was spending $80 per week on meth.
“My son and I were still living with my mom,” said David, who’d switched jobs and was working as a grocery store manager. “I was smoking meth all the time—before work, during my lunch break, and every night.”
In May 2017, David lost his job due to excessive tardiness. For the next six months he collected unemployment and stayed at home while his mom worked and his son went to school.
“I was at home, doing nothing, using drugs,” he said. “I was spending $200 per week on meth. My mom suspected I was using, but I denied it.”
Eventually, his mom found out and gave him an ultimatum: stop doing drugs and get a job or get out. David chose drugs.
In January 2018, David became homeless. He began living out of his car while his mom cared for his son. With no job and almost no money, David began selling crystal meth. He started by spending $500 for 30 grams of the drug. During his first morning on the job, he sold eight grams of meth for $700, putting him on track to earn a net profit of more than $2,000.
“I thought, ‘Hey, I’m pretty good at this,’” David said. Less than 24 hours later, he was arrested and thrown in jail. During the next seven months, he was thrown into jail many more times. He enrolled in a treatment program but failed.
A cry for help
David reached his end on July 31, 2018. He walked aimlessly around the suburb of Circle Pines for 12 hours straight. He hated life. Eventually, he called his mom. “I can’t do this anymore,” he told her. His mom previously had told him about The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) in Minneapolis, but he’d refused to go. This time he asked her to pick him up and take him straight there. “I cried the whole way,” David said.
David spent the next six months at the ARC relearning how to live a positive and productive life. The ARC offers residential rehabilitation for up to 105 men. They receive six months to a year of meals, housing, Christian counseling, and other transformative support.
At the ARC David said he learned “the only person I can change is myself, and the best way to change is to see God’s will for my life and not my own. Before, everything in my life deteriorated under my own will.”
He most enjoyed the “work therapy” part of the program, whereby residents sort donations at Salvation Army thrift stores, cook, clean or perform other duties for eight hours a day.
“Being able to work lets you know you did a good job at something,” David said. “It allows you to look at yourself in the mirror at the end of the day.”
These days, David likes the reflection he sees. He graduated from the ARC in January 2019 and hasn’t looked back. He now works in maintenance for the ARC. To avoid temptation, he has deleted his social media accounts and has erased the phone numbers of every person he ever did drugs with. He attends 12-step meetings every week and has begun to restore his relationship with his son.
In the last year, David was enrolled as a soldier. He attends the Noble Worship Center (Corps) in Brooklyn Park, Minn., several times a week, has led a Bible study for men and women in recovery and volunteers to drive a van of people from the ARC to the corps when needed.
“When I came into the Salvation Army program my hope was to get the recovery I needed,” said David. “I soon realized I needed God in my life above all else. He has given me a joy I cannot explain with words. What better way to show God how much His love means to me than to share that joy He has given me? Helping other people understand who God is and how much He loves all of us is my ultimate goal.”