Former heroin addict finds purpose in bringing hope to others

EVERETT — You’ve got to have faith to come back from where she’s been.

At 26, Lindsey Greinke said she has survived heroin addiction, rape, abuse, heartbreak, homelessness, suicide, depression, self-harm and the death of the love of her life.

The Everett woman credits her faith in God for guiding her out of the darkness that once was her life, hanging out in drug dens, popping pills and smoking heroin.

“For some reason, I’ve always known everything was going to be OK and God would protect me,” she said. “However, I did not always know I had a purpose and I could help people by sharing my struggles.”

Now, Greinke is a light at the end of the tunnel for other addicts. She runs her own nonprofit, Hope Soldiers, which has provided support and help finding treatment for people struggling with addiction and their families since 2013.

She’s a single mother, raising her son, Jackson, 6, and working full time as an executive assistant for a Seattle technology company that has a reputation for demanding a lot of its employees.

Greinke sees it as her calling to do something about the heroin epidemic affecting young people in the area.

In Snohomish County, 5.7 percent of 12th-graders responding to a Healthy Youth Survey last October reported having tried heroin. That’s compared to the survey’s average of 3.2 percent statewide.

About 2.8 percent of the county’s eighth-graders who took the survey and 3.6 percent of 10th-graders reported that they had also tried the drug.

Greinke said she lost her best friend to a heroin overdose earlier this year. Nick Mirante, 19, of Mill Creek, died Feb. 16.

“I promised him no matter what I’d continue to fight addiction,” she said. “It’s been a very difficult experience for me grieving and missing him but I do know he’s in heaven, just as I know I’m breathing.”

Now, Greinke has expanded Hope Solders to not only help people who struggle with substance abuse but also those with mental health issues, including depression and thoughts of suicide.

Greinke has also been helping with parenting plans and other support to help families reunite after being ripped apart by addiction. She helps guide parents with substance abuse issues through drug court and in dealings with Child Protective Services.

She has started a support group at 7 p.m. on the first and third Tuesdays of each month at Mukilteo Foursquare Church, 4424 Chennault Beach Road.

It is open to anyone affected by addiction, depression and suicide, including those who care about people with these problems but aren’t struggling with such issues themselves. Unlike traditional 12-step groups, people are able to have an open dialogue and respond to one another.

Greinke has partnered with The HandUp Project, which passes out food and supplies to people living on the streets and works to ensure homeless alcoholics and drug addicts can get the services they need.

She has held well-attended events at high schools in the area with Trent Shelton, a former NFL wide receiver and motivational speaker and Cmdr. Pat Slack of the Snohomish Regional Drug &Gang Task Force. She’s planning another event in May.

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

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.

“The only thing I refused to do was pray,” she said. “I felt like God had forsaken me.”

One day the cable went out in the place she was staying while she was high. She tried to fix it with an antenna but was only able to get a few channels, including a Christian network.

She first saw an addict talking about recovery. Then two songs were played that were particularly meaningful to her.

“I felt my heart getting softer and I was loaded so I shouldn’t have been able to feel anything,” Greinke said. “I felt God wrap his arms around me and tell me ‘You’re going to get through this.’ ”

That’s when she decided get treatment. But 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 help.

She checked into rehab in April 2011. Greinke said she felt God with her throughout her recovery.

“I got a fire in my heart to bring awareness about addiction,” she said. “Hope Soldiers is all the work of God. There’s no other explanation for it.”

Greinke said she is not particularly good at time management. She isn’t sure how she manages to run her nonprofit, work, raise her child and help all of the people she does. She gives credit to God for making it possible to fit it all in.

“Throughout the time I’ve been clean, I have know that God is here and I am loved by him,” she said. “My mission now is to show other people that they are loved too.”

For more information on Hope Soldiers, call 425-341-3572 or go to facebook.com/hopesoldiersofwa.

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

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