ST. ALBANS — At 43 years of age, Hal Porter was sitting around waiting to die. “And it wasn’t coming quick enough.”

He hadn’t spoken with his mother in four years. Nor his four kids.

He barely left his apartment, except to swing by Beverage Mart to buy cigarettes or groceries before hitting up his dealer. And all his possessions were gone, lost in the wake of his all-encompassing, desperate search for his next high.

Today, Hal’s face is the first one sees walking into Turning Point, peeking from behind the counter top at the community center for people in recovery from alcohol and substance abuse on Lake Street in St. Albans.

The gray NASCAR racing hat, atop blue eyes, lined with age and a crooked smile, is all that’s visible at first. Closer, his gray t-shirt, with ‘Turning Point’ written above the heart, comes into view, leaving parts of his sleeves of tattoos exposed, flames and a cobra on the left forearm and symbols of addiction and recovery, peonies, his sobriety date, and a cross, on the right.

At six-foot-two, Hal, 50, is a strong, trusted presence there. But his journey to the recovery center was a long one; his alcohol and substance abuse started early.

To read the full story of Hal’s battle with opiate addiction, pick up a copy of the weekend Messenger, subscribe to our digital edition, or purchase a digital day pass for $1.00.