Behind The Badge: Salvation Army Helping Addicts Live A Life Of Sobriety


Inside the Rockford Salvation Army, you’ll likely come across Larry. Whether he’s greeting people at the front door, or checking over the schedule for their Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Program.

Larry is a recovering addict himself and at 60 years-old you would never know that by looking at him until he tells you his story.

“I was drinking a lot. I was using crack cocaine. At times I couldn’t drink because my stomach and my health diminished so far, so I started snorting heroin,” said Larry Hilstad.

After completing the program in 2011, he starting drinking again.

“I knew how to get clean, I just didn’t want to get clean.”

So he found himself back here in 2016. After becoming sober he’s now an assistant houseman in the program.

“I’m one of these people, I’m always going to be one of these people.”

It’s a six month long treatment plan offered to men who are struggling with addiction. Demetrous Nobles is the program manager, who came here as an addict too.

“It was back in 2011 where I fell into a situation where I was in need from drug addiction,” said Nobles.  

Bill Tage has been in the program for 7 months after coming back for a second time. He and Larry are role models for other men.

“I’ve really appreciated all the help he’s given me. He’s really been a good structure for me,” said Tage.  

Since it’s an anonymous program, our cameras were not allowed around other recovering addicts. Right now there are 33 open beds and it’s all free thanks to the Salvation Army Thrift Stores and community donations.

“You can come and walk in off the streets, out of the community, out of the elements, and off drugs. It’s just a phone call away,” said Nobles.  

“There’s work books, there’s classes that we go through and then there is a lot of spirituality,” said Tage.

For Larry and Bill, it’s more than a bond they’ve formed here, it’s a new pathway in life after years of overcoming some of their darkest days.

“God brought me to the Salvation Army and the Salvation Army brought me to god,” said Hilstad. 

For anyone struggling with drug or alcohol abuse who is interested in the program—can call 815-397-0440. You can also drop off donations at any of their thrift store locations. 

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