(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the ninth in a series of stories concerning the opioid crisis that our communities are facing, presented as a cooperative effort of The Ledger Independent, WFTM Radio and Comprehend, Inc. Today’s story deals with how one recovering addict stays sober, and one option available to aid in that recovery.)
For one local recovering — or clean, as he prefers to say — addict, helping others is his key to staying clean himself.
A member of the Unity Chapter of Narcotics Anonymous, his life was once a blur of drugs and alcohol, jail time and prison sentences. He would get clean on the inside and then return to his previous lifestyle once his sentence was complete and he was back in the real world. At one time, he was supporting a $1,000 a day drug habit, he said.
“I was totally hopeless. I couldn’t take care of myself, I couldn’t take care of my daughter. I was a a failure as a drug dealer, a failure as an addict, a failure as a son and a failure as a father,” he said looking back.
It was the failure to his daughter that was his rock bottom, he said.
“I asked God to help me, to show me how to stay clean and this is it,” he said. So for 12 years he has maintained a health lifestyle, a choice he said is attributable to his involvement with NA.
But before he came to depend on NA, he said he tried several different approaches, including moving to an area where he thought drugs would not be available, called a “geographic cure.”
“There is no such place,” he said.
For his friend and fellow recovering addict, it was also his failure to his children that prompted his decision to get clean.
“I looked into my kids eyes and seeing that hopelessness…,” he said. He too, turned to NA for help to get and stay sober.
At the depths of his addiction, the fellow recovering addict had all of his still good top teeth pulled, so he could get a prescription for pain medication. Now three years into recovery, he said NA is responsible.
The Unity Chapter of NA covers a seven-county area in Kentucky and Ohio and members of the group pool their own funds to pay for literature they share with the public and place for distribution in public locations, all free of charge to anyone interested in the information. They not only offer meetings, but members serve as sponsors for fellow recovering addicts and can even get them into rehab. The group also offers dog-tag like medals to members to mark periods of sobriety.
“We are a one-stop shop,” the addict said.
“We tell people we have the answer,” the member said. “I reach out but sometimes it’s ‘no thanks.’”
According to in formation from the organization, “The primary service provided by Narcotics Anonymous is the NA group meeting. Each group runs itself based on principles common to the entire organization, which is expressed in NA’s literature.”
Both men attend meetings several times a week, one, four to seven times a week, the other at least three and are instrumental in organizing CleanFest 10, a camp out set for June 29-July 1, at Blue Licks Battleground State Resort Park.
The annual get together features guest speakers for the entire weekend and is dedicated to offering NA members tips on getting and staying clean. It offers a variety of sessions geared to many different scenarios from those for new members to long-term recovery.
The buffet at the park’s Hidden Waters restaurant will offer meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner throughout the weekend and the Daniel Boone Room will be the site for marathon meetings. For more information, call 606-407-5772, 606-584-0153 or 606-375-8836.
A complete list of meeting can be found at www.maysville-online.com attached to this story.
NA is not only an organization to the 12-year recovering addict but a way of life, he said.
“I help because I want to help and the consequence is that I stay clean. If I just did this to stay out of jail, it would be worth it,” he said. “It’s a way of life. There’s no day off for us. Addiction doesn’t take a vacation.”
His friend agreed.
“You chase your addiction every day, why not chase your recovery.”