BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - In part two of our special report, "Making it After Meth," we meet a local man, and shows us how sometimes you have to hit rock bottom a few times to see the light.
Jay Strickland spent six years chained to his meth addiction.
"Before I knew it I was pretty bad off, strung out, lost everything, a wife, family, a great job."
Strickland grew up in Troy, Alabama and was just 16 when he took his first hit of crystal meth.
"It was a party," said Strickland. "I'd use it occasionally on the weekends, and then it went from maybe a weekend a month to maybe every weekend and then all of the sudden next thing you know we're using every day. "
It didn't take long before he started cooking crystal meth himself. He had a lab in his home and sold the drug for about three years.
"I did about a year in prison for distribution of meth in Alabama and got out didn't learn anything in prison, thought I would. I got out and started right back doing the same thing."
A year after getting out of prison, Strickland came close to going back behind bars.
"I don't think I ever realized it until I had lost everything, lost my home, and was sleeping in a car," Strickland said. "Even then I didn't quit. I wish I could say I had the bright light of a moment where I just gave it up and quit, but I didn't."
Strickland says it was in a hotel room in Dothan, Alabama, where he finally decided he was going to change his life.
"I flushed everything down the toilet and came down here to Panama City and I had money, rented a place, dried out, got myself clean, and haven't looked back since."
Strickland now has a wife and kids, and he spends his days working as the general manager at Uncle Maddio's Pizza in Panama City Beach, but he does a lot more than just make pizza.
"We have a total of three young men that are actually going through rehab trying to get their lives straight," said Strickland. "We have one that's graduated already from rehab who just moved down south, just the opportunity to work with them so they can get money built up so when they do come out they can start their lives over."
He says he knows what it's like to lose everything, he's just grateful Maddio's lets him help others recovering from drug addiction.
"Your whole life just revolves around the drug use, all your friends, I mean, I used constantly, everyday. They lose everything. They get in trouble with the law. Their licenses are taken, they're fined and they just dig themselves into this rut and it makes it even harder for them to get clean then."
Strickland has been clean for almost twelve years now. He was nervous about sharing his story, but he says if it helps just one person, it's worth it.