A Tennessee man filmed overdosing on heroin in a video that went viral has spoken out about the incident, saying the footage was a blessing in disguise that pushed him and his wife into battling their addictions and reuniting with their estranged daughter.
Ronald and Carla Hiers were waiting for a bus on October 3 when the heroin they had snorted in a Memphis Walgreens bathroom earlier in the day “caught up” to them, leaving the pair nearly unconscious and unaware of the crowd forming, he told WREG-TV.
“The people out there, thinking that it's all fun and games, that's a false illusion. Smoke and mirrors,” Ronald Heirs told the television station. “It's devastation. It's pain. It's anguish.”
The couple was taken to the hospital, soon finding out that the overdose was captured in real time on Facebook Live and had made the news.
"When I saw it on the news, I knew it was me,” said Hiers, who had been using heroin for 24 years. “I had to hit rock bottom, and for me that was my... it really shocked me to my core. We were at the point where life really didn't matter."
Among the millions of people who saw the video was their estranged daughter, who WREG-TV put in touch with Turning Point Recovery, which helped get the couple into — and pay for — rehab.
Now two months clean, Hiers has a new lease on life.
“I feel super, I feel like I’ve gotten my life back,” he said. “The addict has no life; it’s ‘get drugs, get high, tear down your relationships with your family, your children, the people around you.’ There’s no communication with people... it’s all about me. That’s no way to live."
He noted that neither he nor his wife harbors any resentment for Courtland Garner, the man who streamed their overdose.
“He’s the best thing that ever happened to me. Truly is. I hold no animosity towards him,” Hiers told WREG-TV. “I hope he realizes that the way he handled the situation from a human point of view was wrong, but I thank him for it. He didn’t owe us anything. My wife and I got ourselves there.”
Garner, who received backlash for laughing at the couple as he filmed, defended his actions, saying at the time: "What they were doing was children things. It was a spectacle. It made me laugh. They can help themselves. I know for a fact all the kids are on social media, and when kids see that video, you know what they are going to say? I don't want to look stupid like that I don't want to do those drugs."
Hiers’ wife, Carla, entered a rehabilitation center in Massachusetts and is also doing well, he said.
In a statement to the television station, she said the overdose was a wakeup call and urged others struggling with addiction to get the help they deserve.
“I never thought anyone cared, and now I know there are people I can trust... it’s never too late to reach out for help,” she said. “I don’t feel hopeless, worthless and useless anymore. I’m 60 years old, and I’ve been an opiate addict for 40 years. If there is hope for me, there is hope for everybody.”