What is your story with opioids?
I grew up in your typical suburban neighborhood where I joined the Military after high school. Even before I got out of the service, I found myself addicted to painkillers. Whatever I could get, I would take.
The percs and oxys ultimately got too expensive and too hard to get so I moved on to heroin. I was completely addicted, doing anything I could to get the drug, including stealing from my family and friends.
I tried rehab and was clean for almost two years but I relapsed and spiraled into homelessness. Once I was homeless I made my way into Manhattan. It was very easy to panhandle there, which made it very easy to obtain drugs and sustain my habit. That’s literally all I was trying to do was “sustain my habit”.
For over a year, I accepted that was it. People around me were dying and I was fine with just riding out my addiction until I didn't wake up one day. In my opinion there was no hope and honestly I was content with that.
One day, a stranger who supported veterans saw my sign, offered to help and set me up with permanent housing, food stamps, and access to a detox. Despite thinking my life was done, this stranger paved a path for me and I just had to follow it for a better life. Days after detox, I craved drugs and that was when a friend told me about Suboxone.
I got on suboxone, cravings and urges all started going away.
It finally allowed me to focus on other things in life other than just getting high and let me tell you. There is so much more to life than we could ever think of in active addiction.
The cuffs of addiction were finally coming off. I felt like I was a slave to drugs for almost a decade at that point and suboxone was the key to giving me my freedom again. When I was on drugs I never wanted to / couldn’t venture too far from my dealer. I was literally tied down.
I got a job, a nice suit, an apartment.
Unfortunately, my new private insurance wouldn’t cover the suboxone so for years I traveled to the same person who sold me heroin for the medication. It was tempting to tell my dealer I wanted something other than suboxone but the medication kept those cravings away and i just didn’t want it.
Eventually, I wanted a legitimate source for the medication and found Ophelia. Today, I am 6 years clean and living a wonderful life. I have an even better job, a wonderful wife, a great apartment and we have a baby. All things that were not at all attainable in active addiction.
To Whomever is reading this:
For all you know, Ophelia might be YOUR key to unlock YOUR handcuffs of addiction. There is another version of yourself out there that is just waiting to be brought back to life. That version of you feels happiness, love, trust, pride and freedom. Give that version of yourself a chance and take the first step. After that first step it’s very possible that you might start getting addicted to having a better life like I did. Before you know it, you might build a completely new life , family, future, and most importantly- actually be happy!
Did you look for treatment before Ophelia?
I tried rehab and detox. Both worked for a little bit but eventually, there were too many temptations that brought me back.
Suboxone has been the only treatment that allowed me not to think about the addiction anymore.
What has been your experience with Ophelia?
The best services to help drug addicts are those that are not complicated. Put any variable in front of someone trying to get clean and that's just an easy excuse to return to the drug. And that one time they decide to get high, could be their last.
Ophelia makes it easy. I don’t need to travel to my dealer, far away and to a bad neighborhood. It's reliable. It's there.
And Matt, my clinician, is so cool. We talk all about what's going on in my life. I share stories about my wedding, honeymoon, baby stuff, everything. He’s more than just a clinician to me.
Can you share a piece of advice to give with others in similar situations?
I have two:
Take the help when it's offered. I know, first hand, that you have tunnel vision amidst addiction - you just want money to get drugs. But help is there. Take it.
People in addiction have an energy and focus that they channel to the addiction. Its very unique and very strong. Channel that through recovery and getting your life better. You CAN live a much better life. Us addicts are very unique and have a lot of strengths. Hang onto them and put them to good use.
What do you want people to take away from your story?
You can be on the street with only a backpack and a piece of cardboard you pulled out the trash and you can still have a future with a good job, a kid, a wife. There is hope.