When I began working on I Am More: Massachusetts I was determined that at least one of the twenty portrait subjects would address opioid addiction. No matter where you live in the state, or in the country, you cannot escape this tragic epidemic and it’s on all of us to educate ourselves and learn what we can do to prevent more senseless loss. Meeting Josh, with his cheerful, hardworking attitude, showed me that every story of addiction is unique and has something to teach us. I’m grateful that Josh felt a personal responsibility to be a part of the conversation:
I am a 32-year-old recovering opiate addict. My addiction started at the age of 18 and took me on one of the worst rides of my life.
During my senior year of high school I was introduced to OxyContin. After graduating I had all the confidence in the world but I was also battling a full-blown opiate addiction. I started using recreationally with friends but before I knew it I couldn’t stop. Hot sweats, muscle cramps, anxiety, and irritability are just a few of the physical withdrawal symptoms. Once I started to feel this way I would do anything in my power to make it stop. As I fell deeper and deeper into my addiction both mentally and physically, I found myself running in circles. After battling opiates for 7 years I finally had enough and sought treatment in September of 2011.
During the first year of treatment I started to turn my life back around. With my physical symptoms taken away by the help of methadone I was able to work on my mental addiction. With the support of family and friends I attended groups and one-on-one counseling that allowed me to find out who I really was without drugs.
Two years into recovery I thought my life was finally taking a turn for the best when I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. If not for the program and the sobriety I had come to achieve I don’t know what I would have done nor where I would be. I chose to fight my cancer head on, the same way I fought my addiction.
I am now 7 years sober and 4 years cancer-free. I enjoy traveling, playing golf, and being around friends and family. Overcoming addiction of any kind is hard and can take a long time to heal. Asking for help is the first step in recovery.
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