'I should have been dead': Former addict now helping others

"Addicts, alcoholics, the whole nine yards. As bad as a person as some of us were, we can still help others."


As the warehouse foreman at the Salvation Army’s family store and donation center, Ryan Zajic deals with change on a daily basis. But it's nothing compared to the changes he has made over the last few years.

Zajic started doing drugs when was 12 or 13 years old. By the time he was 25, he was addicted to meth.

His addiction landed him in and out of jail, leaving him with five felonies by 2010.

"I should have been dead," Zajic said. "And I think at one time in my youth, that was my goal, was (to) be dead at 25. Because that's what came with what I was doing."

When Zajic heard about the Salvation Army’s treatment program, he asked his judge for a bond reduction so he could go attend it.

He credits the program for teaching him how to function in society again.

"The program taught me how to get up in the morning, shave my face, make my bed, eat breakfast and go to work," Zajic said. "The administrators at the Salvation Army, they seen something in me that I didn't even see in myself."

Zajic said the program and the job that followed not only helped him get sober, but also taught him to give back to others struggling with addiction.

"Addicts, alcoholics, the whole nine yards," Zajic said. "As bad as a person as some of us were, we can still help others."