TAMPA (FOX 13) - Kirk Kirkpatrick is a man with a lot of knowledge when it comes to addiction and struggles here in Florida.
"We lose about 55,000 people a year to substance abuse... that's basically a Vietnam war every year." Kirckpatrick told FOX 13 News. "There aren't a lot of options for people here. The occupant rates always seem to be at 90 to 120 percent."
These stats, amongst other things, motivated the former athlete to start his own rehabilitation for drug and alcohol addiction. It's called Riverside Recovery, located in Seminole Heights, which is a 30-day treatment center with a holistic approach and healthy foods and drinks.
"It is a disease and I think a lot of people think is moral-failing -- that they're just lazy," Kirkpatrick said. "They don't realize that their brains have changed once they've taken whatever drug it is and they sort of need to be cleaned and need to do a reboot -- like you do a computer almost -- and that's very hard," Kirkpatrick said.
He would know first-hand. He's recovering as well.
"I'm a local kid, graduated from Brandon High, had a really good high school career and went on to Florida and had a great career, was All-SEC and second team All-American. I had a good career in finance," Kirkpatrick said. "I found myself in a marriage that was deteriorating, I was drinking too much... I lost my marriage -- and rightfully so. I started feeling sorry for myself and spiraled out of control and that's when addiction took over for me."
Kirkpatrick says that rehab for him was like a physical trainer: they taught him what and what not to do. The real hard work started one he left, once he was on his own. The hardest thing - is what led him to get help.
"I'm not ashamed of it. It's who I was, not who I am now. You folks at home who think you have a problem or know you have a problem ... take the first step ... you can really have a great life if you do that!" Kirkpatrick said.
Riverside Recovery also offer scholarships at least once a month. Here is their website if you or someone you know needs help: www.rrtampa.com.