A husband who was filmed overdosing with his wife after shooting up heroin in one of the most symbolic videos of America’s drugs epidemic last year has shared new details of their crippling addiction and how they overcame it.
On October 3, 2016, Ronald and Carla Hiers were filmed crawling along the sidewalk and passed out at a bus stop in Memphis after injecting heroin in the bathroom of a Walgreen’s nearby.
Footage of them writhing around in broad daylight as they reeled from the drug’s effects attracted millions of views on Facebook.
The couple have since completed separate rehab programs and are no longer living together or even in the same state.
They had been together for more than 20 years when they were filmed overdosing last October by passers-by who laughed and gave commentary as they writhed around on the sidewalk.
Both were revived by paramedics who gave them a life-saving dose of naxolone.
After being revived and given the all-clear in hospital, Carla was arrested on outstanding petty theft charges but Ronald, 61, was free to go.
In an interview with Time this week, his first in-depth since the video went viral, he told how he got home and injected the rest of his wife’s ‘share’ of the drugs.
Ronald Hiers, 61, is pictured recently after completing rehab treatment. He is now clean and sober
His wife Carla is also clean. The pair were addicted to heroin and opiods for almost 50 years until last October when a video of them overdosing went viral and sparked their recovery
‘I felt sorry for her. But I also thought, There’s more for me,’ he said.
Along with the heroin, Ronald took 48 Xanax pills in an attempt to take his own life.
He was so desperate to die, he said, that he carried around a hand-written obituary for himself in his pocket and left the date blank.
‘I was tired. I was sick of living. I got tired of waking up. I got tired of putting my shoes on. I got tired of reaching for my syringe. I got tired of going and getting money for dope, and I knew I just couldn’t live without dope,’ he said.
Ronald was addicted to heroin from 1972 to October last year. He described the drug and the grip it had on his life bluntly.
‘It takes you to a state of nirvana. I can describe it best by saying that if you and your wife are in a house and your wife runs in the room and says, “I just ran over the dog,” your response is “We’ll get another one.” Nothing matters. Absolutely nothing.
‘There’s nothing you can say to me that can get me upset or alarmed. It buries your feelings so deep,’ he said.
His addiction began at 13 when he and his friends started sniffing paint. They graduated on to marijuana and then began using harder drugs when he was around 18.
Ronald Hiers, 61, was filmed slumped over a bus stop after injecting heroin on October 3 last year in Memphis
Hiers’ wife Carla was seen crouching on the sidewalk, her face planted on the curb in the disturbing footage
Before: Ronald and Carla are pictured before their recovery. They have since told how they spent their 20 years together committing crime and taking drugs
He and Carla got together after the failure of previous relationships and the pair bonded over their drug use.
‘We committed a lot of crime together. That’s how my life was to me, just one big party because I didn’t want to deal with any feelings.
‘Any situation I was in, the four kids I had, I walked away from. Who does that s***? A bad person,’ Ronald said.
Among the millions of people who watched his heartbreaking overdose last year was Paris Hardee, his estranged daughter from a previous relationship.
After recognizing him in the footage, she sought help from Addiction Campuses, a drug addiction recovery company.
‘I was crying and I said to whoever answered, “The man who OD’d in Memphis—that’s my dad,”‘ Hardee recalled.
Ronald and Carla also revealed how they lost their only child together in 1995 to drug addiction.
The daughter, who has not been identified, was taken away from the pair shortly after Carla gave birth when doctors recognized her opioid addiction. She has not rebuilt a relationship with the pair since.
Family: Hiers’ estranged daughter Paris Hardee viewed the overdose video on Facebook and convinced her father, who she had not spoken to for 13 years, to go to rehab
Hiers and Carla lost their only child together to authorities in 1995 when doctors discovered her drug abuse. He is pictured with two of his other kids from previous relationships who he still estranged from
Not long after the video went viral last year, Ronald was admitted to Turning Points in Tennessee.
Carla was released from jail several weeks later and went to a separate facility in Massachusetts.
She has stayed there and is living along in an apartment. The woman says she has rediscovered her faith since she completed treatment.
Ronald lives in a shared apartment in Tennessee and now sees his daughter and grandchildren.
The pair are still in touch but they are eager not to revert to the 20-year pattern of enabling one another which they were trapped in.
‘I don’t want to go back to Memphis. A lot of bad memories, a lot of bad things happened there,’ Carla said.
Reflecting on their relationship, she said: ‘Things were never normal. We were always going to jail for something. It would either be him or me. We were always strung out.’
Ronald now also attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and hopes to become a counselor.
In a tearful interview last year, he told how he was horrified by people’s reactions to the video.
‘I’m a human being. That’s what so many people missed about it.’
If you or your loved one is struggling from addiction, call Turning Point Recovery 24/7 hotline 888-512-3321.
You can also read about the center at Turningpointtreatment.org.