LAYTON -- It only took one pill to get Dale Covington hooked. Now he's doing everything he can to make sure others who are addicted get the help they need.
In 1998, Covington, an instrument mechanic/civilian at Hill Air Force Base, was involved in a car crash. He started taking a prescription narcotic to deal with the pain.
"From there it went to all types of painkillers," he said. "That one pill got me hooked."
Covington said he neglected his responsibilities as a husband and father during his time as an addict.
"I became so distant from my family and my dreams that everything good in my life was starting to be taken from me because of my addiction," he said. "My addiction became No. 1 in my life, and almost everything I thought or did became in direct relation with it."
Covington even overdosed in front of his wife and children on his family room floor. After two days in the hospital, he was back popping pills.
It wasn't until he made what he says was a complete fool of himself at his mother's funeral that his wife gave him an ultimatum: Get help or get out. Covington checked into the ACT Center at Ogden Regional Medical Center. He calls it the hardest thing he's ever had to do in his life, but he was able to recover from his addiction.
"When I was a boy, I had a dream to work around jets. That dream was almost taken from me because of my addiction," he said.
"Shortly after coming out of the rehab center, I started going to addiction recovery groups that the LDS Church has. I attended these groups for around six months before being asked if I would like to be the facilitator of the group."
Covington said it was from that point on that he began helping others with their addiction. He was then asked if he would like to go to Farmington Youth Detention Center to tell his story. He did and continues to do so today. He also gives lectures at the ACT center once a month, has twice spoken at Hill to an audience of 400 and has spoken to students at Syracuse Junior High School.
Covington said he continues to help others because he wants them to feel the same peace and happiness he felt when he recovered.
"I soon became aware of the happiness that was in my home again. I loved it, and know my dear wife and kids loved it. As I had opportunities to talk with and counsel other addicts, I realized that, like me, they all wanted to be happy," he said. "They wanted their families to be happy. They really wanted to be good parents and good people. They understood to some degree that they had issues. They just needed help."
Covington said most people who come to him for help are addicted to drugs or alcohol. However, he said he has helped a lot of people with other addictions, including gambling, shopping, overeating and pornography -- and they all lead people to the same unhappy place.
Because of his efforts to turn his addiction around to help others, the American Red Cross of Northern Utah named him a hero during its annual Heroes Breakfast in April.
Covington said it was an honor to receive the award, but he's just trying to pay it forward.
"I am recovered in the fact that today I don't give in to the addict. He is still there. He still wants to be fed. He still tries each and every day to get what he so badly needs and wants. I created a monster within me that will be there forever, I'm sure," Covington said. "It does get easier with time and with honest recovery and sobriety."
Covington said people need to spend more time smiling at others and asking how their day is going.
"Sometimes it's something small like that, that can change a person's day, and sometimes it's one day at a time," he said.