Breaking The Stigma of Addiction: The Addicted Eagle Scout

At the age of 17, I was awarded the highest rank in the Boy Scouts of America, Eagle Scout and I was addicted to opioid painkillers and black tar heroin. Shortly after graduating high school I found myself attending 12 step meetings in California, searching for an answer to solve my problem. Three years passed before I realized I couldn’t do this on my own, that I needed something else in my life to stop my drug abuse. After multiple arrests, near death experiences and homelessness I had an experience that woke me up. I was 20 years old living in the town I grew up in, most of the bridges were burnt by now and no one wanted anything to do with me. Something came over me one day, nothing was out of the ordinary but when I looked around, I finally realized I was on a downward spiral that would only lead to death. I had falling into a huge hole created by my absence of simple spiritual principles, the most obvious was honesty. I was unable to get honest with myself about my addiction and where it had taken me. Something came over me that day it was as if “my eyes were finally open “. I wasn’t able to justify my drug addiction anymore, I wasn’t able to lie to myself anymore, I had truly hit an internal rock bottom. Broken down and defeated from the life I had been living for so long, I reached out for help. The next day I was on a plane to Austin, Texas for treatment. I completed my 90-day stay and moved into sober living home for 9 months. Beginning a new life in recovery and not waking up every day completely sick and in pain was a relief. Recovery for me isn’t just about not doing drugs and alcohol. I actually get to live again, I have a life today full of wonderful friends and family that care about my wellbeing. I’ve maintained employment and managed to excel in the work place. I have a true happiness inside of me today. I have a purpose today. When I was using the only way I could be happy was to insert artificial happiness into my body (Drugs). Today life is different, life is worth living.

Know that Recovery is possible, no matter how far down the scale you have gone. Silence is a killer, becoming a drug addict was something I never intended to do. I never spoke up about my drug abuse with my family, half ashamed and half wanted them to stay out of my business, I hide my drug use from them for a long time. The only hope is when we all grasp hands that are outreached. Grasping an outstretched hand for help is not something only for addicts, the family must do so also. Breaking this stigma is the direction American needs to lean towards. I never choose to be an addict, but today I’m able to do a few simple things, that keep me grounded and in recovery.

Recovery advocacy is something all of us can do. Addiction affects countless families in this country, and almost every individual knows someone personally who has battled this disease. It’s imperative that we stand together push for increased resources such as improved recovery support services, funding research projects, criminal justice reform, access to treatment, nationwide establishment of collegiate recovery programs and recovery high schools, and the list goes on.

Recovery Advocacy Action Week! 

Running from May 2-6, this week will present a tremendous opportunity for all of us to put a face on addiction and recovery. Facing Addiction is proud to partner with many of our action network partners in promoting this terrific week of advocacy!

Take action and advocate on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and wherever else you’re social. Here is a list of recommended social posts and the #HashTags for each day of the #RAAW16 week:

  • Monday– #ThisIsWhatRecoveryLooksLike – Celebrate recovery by sharing a picture on social media that shows what recovery looks like in your life.
  • Tuesday – #OurStoriesHavePower– Smash some more stigma by sharing a brief written description of your recovery on social media. 
  • Wednesday– #CARA2016 – Record and post on social media a short video describing why you support the Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act, and “tag” your U.S. representative. We’ll edit together a compilation of your videos afterward!
  • Thursday– #AltarumBHchat – Interact with Hazelden Betty Ford’s William Moyers, one of the nation’s leading voices on recovery advocacy, in a Twitter chat hosted at 1 pm CT by our friends at the Altarum Institute. After the initial chat, stick around and interact with others leaders from Hazelden Betty Ford, Altarum, MRC, Facing Addiction and YPR.
  • Friday– #2ndChances – Support opportunities for redemption by sharing on social media examples of why second chances are important, including any you may have received. 

As shown above, each day has a different hashtag for you to use. Please tag @FacingAddiction and your favorite action network partners in your posts using hashtag for the week – #RAAW16.