RISING STAR, Texas (KTAB) - Many know him as the Texas Snakeman.
"I got involved in snakes when I was 18 years old in 1969. I went to a rattlesnake roundup," says Jackie Bibby, of Rising Star.
As a small town boy, he's made a big name for himself, "I used to tell them in High School I was going to be famous some day. They'll say you made it, kind of in a wierd way."
Jackie Bibby of Rising Star has traveled the world with his slithery serpents, "A Texan from Rising Star, Texas in England with a bunch of rattlesnakes, yeah, we drew a crowd."
He thrives off the adrenaline that comes with snake handling.
"When I first started doing it, it was a thrill seeking thing because as an addict, adrenaline is a great thing. So as a junkie, I was doing a lot of things that was thrill seeking stuff," adds Bibby.
His addiction nearly ruined his life, "Like any other addict, 30 years ago, I was a helpless and hopeless addict. I couldn't hold down a job. I had lost everything that meant anything to me. I was on the verge of losing my life. I was sent to a treatment center against my will by my father."
Now, as a recovering addict, Bibby says the snakes play a role in his sobriety, " Then it became a vehicle."
He says the lifestyle has helped to steer him in a new direction,
"Through the course of all of that is try to help other addicts," Bibby says.
He is an interventionist and certified outreach specialist, traveling the state helping fellow addicts.
"I'm country as dirt so I like rural areas. These people that don't have the right resources in smaller counties, I'm directing them to those resources," adds Bibby.
He's completed the necessary schooling but says most of his knowledge comes from his troubled past, "It allows me to gain common ground, some trust."
Bibby has stayed on track for decades now, but says he still takes it one day at a time, "I say I'll stay clean until midnight tonight and tomorrow, I'm going to reup."
Bibby gets joy out of helping others achieve sobriety even though it's not always as easy as handling a rattlesnake, " I've been offered to take a whipping several times. Then later they come out and shake my hand and apologize. I say, that's okay. It's cool."
Bibby also helps to steer students away from a destructive lifestyle by attending events where he can share his story.
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