CLEVELAND — David Pines was going down a destructive road.
"When I picked heroin up, it destroyed about everything in my life really quick," Pines said.
Pines finally got treatment and stayed sober for quite some time. He even got his GED and bachelor's degree but then relapsed again. He says he thinks he likely overdosed 11 times.
"Narcan wasn't even available," said Pines. "Sometimes I truly just visualize God just putting his hand on my heart and making it beat again."
But he came out on top and now he's helping others do the same.
He works at the Northern Ohio Recovery Association (NORA) as a project coordinator for peer support. He teams up people in recovery and they help one another to stay sober.
"There are boundaries or ethical boundaries where you cannot basically call your counselor at 8 o'clock at night, but you can call the peer support specialist anytime 24/7," said Cathy Davis of NORA.
Programs like these are vital to battling the opioid epidemic, especially now when opioid related deaths are down in Cuyahoga County.
In 2017 more than 500 people lost their battles with addiction; in 2018 that number dropped by 100 people, and last year it went back up to 480 people.
While it may not be significant, fewer people are dying from drug overdoses.
"We are in this fight and we want to get people better and treat their addiction and be an advocate for them," said Jaculyn Zarback, the assistant nursing director at Stella Maris.
Stella Maris is a detox and treatment center in Cleveland.
She says while deaths may be down in the county, the number of people overdosing is still way up.
They have 20 beds that are always filled and at times have a 200-person waiting list.
"The drugs that are out there currently are harder to come off of, so their detox is lasting longer than expected. We detox an individual for six days and they could still be having withdrawals," she said.
The folks at Stells Maris are raising several million dollars to expand their facilities.