JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A United States Army veteran went from spending $500 a day on heroin to owning a business.
Kendall Tipper shared his story about how the opioid crisis affected him with News4Jax on Wednesday. The former soldier talked about how he broke his addiction and turned his life around.
Day-to-day, Tipper works as a chauffeur, driving a black car for Tipper Transportation, the company he started.
But to getting to where he is today wasn't easy.
"A lot of times, I would catch myself thinking, 'Am I going to be on drugs forever?'" Tipper said.
After he graduated from First Coast High School, Tipper enrolled at Florida State College at Jacksonville, but he quickly knew it wasn’t for him. That’s when he enlisted in the U.S. Army.
"I need the discipline and I didn’t have it at the time," he said.
Tipper was deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2012 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. But in 2014, after an injury, Tipper was honorably separated from the Army. The same thing happened in 2016 when he was honorably separated from the National Guard.
After he was shot while in the Army, Tipper said, he was given prescription pain pills. He said taking them turned into an addiction that only got worse.
"I didn’t want to stop. I enjoyed it," he said. "So I started seeking other avenues, going on the streets and seeking pain medication. Then, eventually, where a lot of addicts lead with the pain medication and addiction to prescription medication, it eventually led to heroin use."
Tipper said he was spending $500 a day on heroin and he hit rock bottom when his now-3-year-old daughter was almost taken from his home.
Tipper got help and is now sober. He hopes his story inspires others to overcome an addiction and have a very productive life.
His message to people battling addiction: "Stick in there."
"God is the only reason I came through it," Tipper said. "And I think there is always a plan and that things may seem insurmountable to be able to come past an addiction, but it’s definitely doable."
In the meantime, Tipper will keep enjoying driving people around town while driving his life in the right direction.