He was 17 years old. He had preached for years about the evils of drugs after watching his dad deal heroin. But then he finally tried it.
"I saw people give up their house, car, wives and families for that stuff. I wondered, 'What is so great about it that they keep doing it over and over again?'" he said. "I woke up the next morning and immediately wanted more."
The 49-year-old Lodi resident remembered the moment he started on a more than 30-year battle with addiction. The man, who is a construction worker but out of work currently, asked that his name not be revealed because he does not want to hurt his family.
For a heroin addict, the hardest part is the withdrawals, which the man described as feeling like his bones were being crushed and his blood was turning to ice, with intense waves of nausea and vomiting.
Because addicts are fearful of going through withdrawal symptoms, it can lead people to commit crimes to support their habit, which can cost as much as $200 a day, he said.
"You do a lot of things to the people you love on this stuff. The person who is stealing the stuff, they hate what they are doing, but they can't control it," he said.
With the opening of a new methadone clinic in Lodi, the man said he believes the crime rate will decrease because people will no longer be desperate to "get well," or keep the detox symptoms at bay.
Thanks to methadone, the man was able to kick his habit and has been sober for more than seven years. He is now on a low daily methadone dose that he can take at home, and is looking into transferring to the Lodi clinic from the one in Stockton.
Another man, Richard, who asked that his last name not be used, was a meth addict for 25 years and then started using heroin.
He was staying up for four days at a time on meth, so a fellow addict suggested he try heroin to sleep.
But he quickly noticed a difference with heroin. It was a more intense addiction. With meth, he could take a month-long break and, even though he craved it, he could resist. With heroin, getting more drugs consumed his whole life.
"You'd do anything to keep from getting sick. I was panhandling, I'm not proud of it. I was stealing from stores. You even do things to your family. You burn all of your bridges," Richard said.
Even with the assistance of methadone, he relapsed three times before he was clean. But he attributes his eventual success to methadone. He has been substance-free for two years.
"It's wonder drug for a heroin addict. You don't get sick, but you also don't get high," he said.
One of the problems with methadone treatment is that patients need to get to a clinic every day. Otherwise they can start to spiral into withdrawal symptoms and turn back to heroin to "get well," Richard said.
When he was getting treatment at a clinic, he had to find a way to get from Galt to Sacramento every day. He would take the bus or have his wife take him at 5 a.m. before going to work; work schedules are why clinics often open so early.
Having a clinic in Lodi will keep people from having an excuse to not go get treatment, Richard said.
"When you are a dope fiend, you let little excuses get in your way of thinking," he said. "It's easier to go across town to get heroin instead of going to Stockton (for methadone) every day."
Now, Richard is a "Mr. Dad," staying home with his 7-year-old and 1-year-old while his wife works. He has tried to look for a job but has had trouble because of a felony on his record and no work history during his 30 years of addiction. But he said that every day, it is a blessing to wake up.
"When my oldest son was born, I made a promise to myself, my wife and my son, that I would never drink alcohol or do drugs in front of him," Richard said.
Contact reporter Maggie Creamer at firstname.lastname@example.org.