“My drug use all stems from past trauma. I believe that ninety-eight percent of people that are addicted to drugs are doing it to run away from pain. I thought I was handling the pain well—I pushed everything down and thought I was dealing with it but then I was held-up at gunpoint in my apartment and robbed—at that moment everything started to fall apart and I went into a really bad depression for a few years. I was in my 40s when I got into opiates; I broke my ankle and had to have throat surgery and both doctors gave me huge bottles of pills, I had been recreationally using for a while before either of those happened.

My low wasn't very low, my rock-bottom wasn't very bad. I just took a look at myself, and realized that I was becoming my mental disorder, that every bad part of that was starting to show through and I didn't like who I was becoming, it got a hold of me, the biggest reason I got off drugs was I realized it was affecting the people around me, and caused me to lose a lot of friendships.

I detoxed myself in Tennessee several times and I would have a couple of weeks where I would stay clean and then I would start using again. It was basically a two-and-a-half month fight to get into a detox. Finally I contacted the right person and they said, ‘I can get you in’, I drove there and I was there for about four hours and I left because I started going to heavy withdrawal. I called another facility and they said that they can take me in two days but the problem was every place wanted me to be on drugs, after I had detoxed. I told them I was already detoxed and need to go into a facility for 28 days and they said that we can't take you in, unless you have drugs in your system. And I've run into that up here as well, a lot of places want you to detox there and that requires that you have drugs in your system. I have found other places that don't do that, and I tend to gravitate towards them.

A counselor at the mental health clinic referred me to Catholic Charities and said it would be really good for me because I had been self-isolating a lot, and had been while I was using, so when she referred me she said that there is a job called a peer specialist—I had never heard it before—she explained the job to me and I thought that was something that I could enjoy doing. I don't believe that we have set destinies, but I do believe that this is some thing that I was meant to do. It was the first time that I didn't feel like I was completely messing everything up and it helped me as much as it helped a lot of the people I worked with, I was referred there as a client and I ended up working there.

Even though everybody knows about the opioid epidemic and hears all the news about people being addicted to prescription opiates because of these pharmaceutical companies, there's still this stigma that we are all degenerates. When these companies cut everybody off of the pills that they prescribed where did they expect everybody to go? They're going to go to the black market.”