Published: Nov. 17, 2023 at 5:57 PM CST
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LABELLE, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Newschannel 7 highlights an overcomer of addiction in the Freedom Friday segment.

Cooking and serving food are a way many people connect with others.

For a Bonifay father, it helps him stay sober and encourages other men to do the same after fentanyl nearly took his life.

Michael Ard spent 15 years addicted to meth, in and out of lockdown when he got a hold of something that would land him in the hospital for a week.

“I had a pill and I crushed it down and it was laced with fentanyl and I wasn’t aware,” he said.

Narcan would have to be used to save Michael’s life.

“I went into cardiac arrest off of it, you know, but it didn’t, luckily, I don’t have no damage from it,” he explained.

Damage was done to those around him.

“When my ex-wife took my kids from me, I hated her for a while you know. I realized now she did the right thing and I’m proud of her for doing that,” Michael said.

He found himself using it again just a few days after leaving the hospital.

“It’s sad to know that that we turn to something that fast to get away from the pain and the struggle,” he described.

Losing good jobs, lying, and stealing from his family, Michael says he didn’t have good boundaries for himself.

“That’s one thing about addicts we, you know, we never have a problem. You know, most of the time it’s everybody else’s. It’s just an excuse for us to use.”

He’d find accountability in Holmes County Jail.

“I got saved in jail and that was a turning point and when I found God, everything started looking up.”

Feeding the homeless as part of his recovery would ignite a passion.

“I love feeding them people, seeing them, seeing everybody come there, sit down and have a good meal and smile and talk and there was no argument, no drug use, no nothing. I mean just bliss, peaceful,” he said.

Over a year sober now, Michael has worked his way up to becoming the Head Chef at Justin’s Place, a recovery ministry in southwest Florida.

When asked what his favorite thing to make, Michael answered, “Oh stir fry. I love. I love to be on a flat top or the grill, either one, but I love to make stir fry.”

He found feeding others instead of his addiction would be liberating.

“It feels really good. I feel so much freedom now than what I did,” he explained.

He wants anyone struggling with addiction to know help is there, you just have to take the first bite.

“Just put them down, seek for some help and that’s pretty much God will take care of the rest,” he said.