A recovering addict is inspiring thousands after sharing his story — and some shocking photos — that show just how drastically his life has changed since getting clean.
Jason Wickline, a single dad living in Nitro, W.Va., described his remarkable journey to Today earlier this week. Wickline detailed one particularly painful moment from four years ago when he was arrested for manufacturing methamphetamines and charged with child neglect.
The recovering addict, who was using at the time, said he remembers when Child Protective Services arrived to take his young son, Krystian, away.
"As they were walking Krystian to the car, he turned around to look at me and said, 'Daddy, I love you and I'll never forget you,'" Wickline told Today. "He was four and thought he would never see me again."
Wickline, now 41, thought he'd be going to prison for several years.
“I was bawling my eyes out,” he said. “I had no idea what was going to happen to my kid at that point."
But the single father has come a long way since then. Instead of extensive jail time, Wickline was offered 30 months probation, along with 13 months in an addiction treatment program. He told Today that since he's gotten clean, he's never felt more alive.
That's a feeling Wickline clearly wanted to help others achieve. In July, he shared a series of shocking photos comparing his current self with how he looked when struggling with addiction. The 41-year-old looks back on those pictures and sees "an empty shell."
"I’m 5-foot-8 and I weighed 120 pounds," Wickline told Today Health. "I was a dead man."
Wickline's exterior is noticeably more healthy today, and he says his mental state matches his body. He told Today he attends regular meetings, volunteers with various treatment programs and has a strong relationship with his son, who he's regained custody of.
"Everything is so different now," he said. "I surround myself with positive people and I try to give back whenever I can. I want people to know that this is a possibility. If I can do it, anyone can."
Many of Wickline's friends seem to also feel inspired by his story. His Facebook posts now garner dozens of comments, including kind words and other people's recovery stories.
"You look great and your journey is inspiring! Keep up the great work! I've been sober for 3 months and it feels amazing to be free of alcohol. Thank you for sharing your story!!!" one user commented on a recent photo of Wickline, his son and his girlfriend, Shanna McClure.
"I just read your story and it brought me to tears! Thank you for sharing that," another woman, who said she was a recovering alcoholic, wrote.