From The Archives: This story was last updated on Dec. 20, 2019.
A father from West Virginia who battled drug dependency for years has bravely shared his dramatic recovery photos as part of the viral #CleanChallenge in the hope of inspiring others.
Jason Wickline started experimenting with drugs in his early twenties. He came from a broken home and admitted feeling “worthless” as an adult.
His addiction eventually resulted in Jason losing his house and custody of his now-9-year old son, Krystian, on two separate occasions to the Child Protective Services.
“[A]t 4 years old he turned around and said, ‘Daddy I love you; I’ll never forget you,’” Jason explained to WKBN in December 2019. “So, at 4, he understood that life was never going to be the same again. He was fully prepared to accept that he’ll never see his daddy again.”
It was the wake-up call that Jason needed. “I lost it all. But that’s what it took,” Jason wrote in a blog post for More Than Addiction, a benevolent organization that shares the stories of people who have been affected by addiction.
It was at this point in Jason’s recovery journey that he decided to share his progress on social media. “Just because someone falls, doesn’t mean they can’t get back up,” the father of one stated. “They can fall tomorrow, but just because that happens doesn’t mean it’s the end of their story.”
Jason first decided to share his “before and after” photos on Facebook on Dec. 5, 2018.
“[T]oday God said someone needed to see this,” Jason wrote. “If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction please reach out and get some help, we are here for you and recovery is possible!”
Jason’s “after” photos depict a very different person from the struggling addict he was back in 2009; people responded with overwhelming love and support.
“I read your story and cried a little. Never lose your focus,” wrote one supporter.
One woman added a personal anecdote: “I wish my son would do [the] same,” she wrote. “I shared your post on my Facebook, hoping he will see this. God bless you.”
“The best 10-year challenge on social media,” added another, joining hundreds of additional social media users who praised Jason for sharing his inspiring story.
#CleanChallenge Post a picture of what you looked like in active addiction and how you look today! Trying to spread hope to those who are still struggling.. We DO Recover!! There is life after dope! 🖤💪🏼
On July 26, 2019, Jason took to Facebook once again to update friends and family on his progress as part of the viral #CleanChallenge, whereby social media users are invited to compare “now and then” photographs chronicling their journeys through addiction and recovery.
“Post a picture of what you looked like in active addiction and how you look today,” Jason urged. “Trying to spread hope to those who are still struggling. We do recover!”
As of December 2019, Jason has been sober for 33 months and counting, and has regained full custody of his son.
Today, Jason also advocates for More Than Addiction and maintains that staying involved in other people’s recovery processes has been what has helped him the most. “If my story helps one person, then it was all worth it, it was all worth it,” Jason reflected, speaking to WKBN.
The now-active father continues to practice gratitude for the ways in which his life has changed for the better since recovery.
“I have regained full and sole custody of my son,” Jason explained in his blog post. “I have been employed at the same job for nearly two years.
“I have a car, a home, and all of the bills are in my name and paid on time,” he added. “I have met [the] most amazing woman who helps me grow and become a better me everyday […] I have become so much more than addiction.”