A former drug addict from California who has turned her life around is honoring a special person who showed her compassion during one of the most difficult periods of her life.
Lieutenant Jim Foster of the Long Beach Police Department first met Tiffany Hall when he arrested her five years ago on drug charges, according to ABC 7. But when he brought her in, Foster didn’t just file paperwork and call it a day. Instead, the police officer used his time with Hall — who was then a drug addict — to inspire her to find a new purpose in life.
“He would encourage me all the time,” Hall said during a press conference last week, which reunited her with Foster years after her initial arrest. “‘Tiffany, you can do better than this. Tiffany, why don’t you try to go to school. Tiffany, why don’t you stop.’”
For Foster, it was Hall’s funny and friendly personality that stuck out to him during their encounters.
“She was a unique personality,” Foster said. “Lots of humor. She had a great story to tell and I noticed she had a tough exterior but a soft interior.”
Substance abuse epidemic continues to claim the lives of many. In 2016, accidental overdoses led to the deaths of 64,000, a 22 percent increase from the year before, according to a government study examined by the New York Times. Fentanyl, heroin and prescription opioid overdoses led to almost 75-percent of those deaths, the study found. There are a variety of ways to treat addiction, the National Institute on Drug Abuse says, including mental health services, behavioral therapy and medication.
As Hall and Foster reunited at the Long Beach Police Department headquarters, Hall — who is now drug-free — reflected back on the days when she was facing addiction, and how Foster influenced her to change her life.
“I became a product of my environment — drug infestation — and I became that,” she said. “But then somewhere, somehow Lt. Foster became a part of my life. For some reason, he would always take me to jail.”
Next month, she will be walking across the stage to receive her diploma when she graduates college—something that may have seen impossible just a few years ago. Hall invited Foster to be there with her during the big moment.
“The biggest joy of my professional career is from time-to-time having contact with people who have found their way out of horrible circumstances and into life’s success,” Foster said during the press conference. “Things that a lot of us just take for granted for people who have a much rougher life story.”
It seems Foster, with a little compassion and patience, helped to show Hall a valuable lesson she will hold on to for years to come.
“I tell myself every day, ‘Don’t look back behind you, because there’s nothing back there,’ “Hall said. ‘ “You’ve got to keep looking forward.’ “