Former addict starts group to help others into recovery

MILL CREEK — Lindsey Greinke has found her calling.

After an unyielding battle against her own drug addiction, the 24-year-old Everett native wants to fight the disease in her community.

Since her days of popping pills and smoking heroin, Greinke said, she has had three friends from Mill Creek’s Henry M. Jackson High School die from drug overdoses.

She’s now helping her fellow addicts achieve sobriety through her new nonprofit organization, Hope Soldiers.

“My heart is on fire to help people with addiction because I struggled,” Greinke said. “I want to infect people with knowledge before it gets them.”

Greinke’s road to recovery wasn’t smooth. At age 16, she was using every day.

“I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere,” she said.

Despite her fairly affluent, middle-class upbringing, her drug use soon led to her couch surfing and bouncing between homeless youth facilities and juvenile detention centers.

At a drug den in Bothell, she was turned on to smoking OxyContin, a potent painkiller. Unable to support her $300 a week habit, she turned to heroin, a cheaper and more readily available opiate alternative.

“It’ll take anyone,” Greinke said. “The first time I tried it, I was addicted immediately. As soon as the high wore off, I started to get sick.”

Greinke’s story is not uncommon.

Tara Barnard, regional manager for Catholic Community Services Recovery Centers, said users of OxyContin, also called oxycodone, often turn to heroin.

“It’s very prevalent in the younger populations,” she said. “We need to address that emptiness youth feel.”

Each week, Barnard said, she sees nearly 100 people under 18 in need of treatment in the Everett and Marysville centers.

The Snohomish County Human Services Department pulled statistics on publicly funded chemical dependency clients from a statewide database. In December 2012, 61 percent of adult drug users in Snohomish County reported some kind of opiate addiction, compared to 53 percent statewide. Those numbers increased in December 2013 to 62 percent and 56 percent respectively. More than half said they started using before age 18.

When Greinke sought help, she had no health insurance or money. Without resources, she almost gave up in the month it took her to find treatment.

Now, after almost 3 years of sobriety, she wants to ease the process for others.

“I’m living proof that you can recover from drug addiction,” Greinke said.

Today, Greinke works for Microsoft as a business administrator and is taking college courses. She is able to be a mother to her 4-year-old son.

Through Hope Soldiers, Greinke steers addicts toward treatment. She sees to it they find jobs and sober living situations. The nonprofit helps find health insurance. It also helps cover the cost of medications for co-occurring disorders, such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety and post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Greinke also supports parents who are struggling with their children.

“I don’t think kids should have to be afraid to ask for help,” Greinke said. “That’s why they’re dying.”

Hope Soldiers has scheduled a forum from 6 to 8 tonight in the commons at Jackson High School.

Motivational speaker Trent Shelton, of RehabTime, is scheduled to speak.

Snohomish Regional Drug and Gang Task Force Commander Pat Slack also will be there to answer questions.

“Everybody needs to be involved with the solution,” Slack said. “We can’t arrest our way out of it.”

He wishes more people would seek treatment instead of finding themselves in court.

Slack said the task force is seeing heroin use affect an increasing number younger people, regardless of their neighborhood.

“The disease of addiction isn’t picky,” Greinke said. “ Nobody is exempt. It could happen to anybody.”

Amy Nile: 425-339-3192; anile@heraldnet.com.

More in Local News

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s best images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

Trail work by juvenile offenders builds resumes, confidence

Kayak Point trails were built out this year by groups from Denney Juvenile Justice Center.

Volunteers clean up homeless camp infested with garbage

The organization’s founder used to live and do drugs in the same woods.

Families begin relocating from public housing complex

Baker Heights is in need of repairs deemed to costly to make, and will be demolished and replaced.

Everett mayoral campaign is one of the priciest ever

Many campaign donors are giving to both Cassie Franklin and Judy Tuohy.

Arrests made in robbery-turned fatal Everett shooting

A man, 24, and woman, 18, were found at a hotel in Seattle.

Boeing marks the start of 777X production at Paine Field

It took tax breaks and union concessions to land assembly of the company’s new jetliner in Everett.

3 fire departments seek levies to support emergency services

District 25 in Oso is hoping to pass its first fire levy in 22 years.

Flood watches end for Snohomish County

No rain is forecast for the rest of the week.

Most Read