As we face history’s most deadly opioid epidemic, the time to take action and get involved is now. August 31st, International Overdose Awareness Day, is a day to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of drug-related death. In accordance, John I., person in long-term recovery, shares how the grips of opioid addiction and overdose affected him on the most personal level and how he now dedicates his life to destigmatize the disease of addiction and help others to find a way out.
“My name is John Ingham and I am a person in recovery from substance use, bipolar and HIV. I have remained abstinent from drugs and alcohol since August 3rd of 2014, for that I am grateful. My journey through drug addiction recovery has taught me that there is no limit on the potential of ANY person can have, nor a struggle that isn’t possible to work through.
As a child, I can remember having felt different from everyone around me. Violent outbursts of anger and sadness for weeks, followed by extreme doses of feeling invincible and happy. I couldn’t explain to you why I felt the way I felt, as it was seemingly unprovoked most of the time. Eventually in my teens, I moved forward into my self-medication.
Through my use, I found that I was able to cover anything that I was feeling and “get well.” I was good at finding drugs and good at acquiring the means to buy them. One of my strengths is my ability to adapt to any situation and make friends with almost anyone. During my use, these strengths played to my disadvantage. I got into lots of trouble, all through the courts and jails for various charges, all to either get drugs or to get money to buy drugs.
On January 27th, 2012, I had an awakening, so to speak. I woke up on the floor next to the couch my sister was laying on (who EMS wouldn’t take into the hospital the night before to receive care) and rolled her over to find her blue in the face with blood coming out of her mouth. She had died of an overdose. That day, I still used heroin to deal with it, because it was what I knew how to do. But this was the start of the thoughts that led to my eventual sobriety. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I didn’t want to die the same way. I wanted to make a difference so that other families didn’t have to go through what we went through.
My monotonous lifestyle led to more charges and many treatment centers for the following 2 years, until one day I was just done. I found a local 12 step meeting and started my journey. I was free.
I have had some amazing experiences in sobriety. I found my best friend to this day through Austin recovery. I have been able to take part in helping with conferences and meetings that people volunteered me for, so that I could pay it forward to the next person like me that needed help. I have sat toe to toe with another human being and listened for hours on end and stayed out of myself. My family is in my life. Many things have come to this place that I never thought I would see. I got enrolled in college as well, and have goals that would never have been possible without sobriety.
With all of the struggles and mishaps, it has shaped my life into something far greater than I could have ever dreamed. I have the ability to use my experience to work with others. I have been able to stay in college through everything and I am working towards my dreams. I have learned that I can walk through anything and be able to make it through to the other side without having to use drugs or do anything else to cover up the way I feel.
Today I am the Student Engagement Coordinator at University High School, the recovery high school in Austin, TX. I work with students that have had issues with substance use and offer them my range of experience. I’ve spoken on panels at various events sharing with professionals my opinions on the treatment systems in Texas. I have more in my life than I ever could have dreamed of. I am loved today. Not only that, I can love today. Life has its ups and downs, and I love every minute of it.”
– John I., person in long-term recovery
There are many more stories just like John’s, and recovery is possible. Our drug and alcohol rehab in Austin, Texas treats all forms of the disease of addiction. If you or a loved one is struggling with opioid addiction or heroin addiction, get help now. Infinite Recovery offers a confidential hotline at (844) 206-9063 and our admissions team is available 24/7 online.