Man replaces opioid drug addiction with gardening

The garden at Paducah’s CenterPoint Recovery Center For Men has Jimmy Whittle feeling like he’s back home in eastern Kentucky.

"Being in the garden, it’s quiet," says Whittle. "You can think about the future ahead, where you’ve come from, where you’re going."

Whittle says he struggled with an opioid addiction for more than a decade. At one point, his addiction left him homeless.

"Drugs and alcohol will take everything away from you, from your family to your homes to anything you could possibly imagine," says Whittle. 

In June, Whittle started treatment at CenterPoint Recovery. Since then, he’s been working in the garden with other addicts.

"(This) teaches us responsibility and allows us to get out here and work," says Whittle.

This season, Whittle says they’ve grown more produce than they can eat. Because of that, they’re donating a few full baskets to the Community Kitchen in Paducah.

For Brett Preston, who was addicted to methamphetamine for eight years, it’s a feeling for accomplishment.

"It actually makes me feel like I’m doing something with my life," says Preston.

Preston says he’s excited to see others eat the food he helped grow.

Iris Hines is a volunteer at the Community Kitchen.

"It’s a blessing for the guys to bring us this stuff," says Hines. "They worked very hard, you can tell."

Hines says the donation helps the kitchen save money, so it can feed even more people. That makes Whittle feel good about what he’s been doing in recovery.

"It produces the same chemicals that the drugs produced," says Whittle.

Since Whittle started working in the garden, he says he is now addicted to helping others.

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