There’s a stigma against people who struggle with addiction that often exists because people believe it could never happen to them – but it can. Addiction is a disease that knows no boundaries, has no preconceived notions and leaves no clues as to who it will touch next.
Jeffrey Born is a normal 65-year-old man from Uxbridge, Mass. An Air Force veteran and father of one, he suffered a sudden workplace injury and, like so many others, was prescribed painkillers. He developed an addiction to the medications that later led him to heroin.
Jeffrey bravely shared his story about his journey, and the near-fatal overdose that led him to Spectrum Health Systems.
It all started with a really bad industrial accident at work in 2003, when a 9,000-pound bar of titanium fell on my legs and crushed them. Both of my legs needed to be amputated. I was in the hospital for 43 days and when I got out, I was on massive amounts of OxyContin. I was also in a wheelchair and was on Vancomycin. I had a PICC line pumping antibiotics for infections into my heart. All in all, I was on a lot of pain medications, and that’s how I became addicted.
When my doctors started to wean me off my pain medications, I realized I was dependent upon them – and I knew people that could get black market drugs for me. I started buying other people’s prescription drugs, so they would have cash and I would have the pills. Eventually, I turned to heroin.
I was living in an apartment with my ex-girlfriend and we bought what we thought was heroin, when in fact, it was fentanyl. Because I didn’t know it was fentanyl, I injected the normal amount I would with heroin. It was so much stronger that I immediately fell to the floor.
Thankfully, EMTs arrived and they administered Narcan to wake me up. But, the Narcan put me into withdrawal and it was a horrible feeling. I declined to go to the hospital because I wanted to do more drugs, even though I knew I needed help. It was a catch 22, knowing that I wanted to get away from drugs but being so hooked on them. I needed professional help. This was the turning point for me, and I started looking for help the next day.
I came to Spectrum in 2016. I found them by running my finger down the pages of a phone book. By then, my life was in shambles. I was about to be evicted and homeless. My family barely spoke to me. My life was a horror story because of drugs.
After treatment at Spectrum, my life did a complete 180. I started medication-assisted treatment with methadone. The daily doses I receive stop the cravings for heroin.
My life has changed so much in long-term recovery. Suddenly, I noticed that I had money because I wasn’t buying drugs. I made amends with my family and friends, who I drove away with the lies I told to cover up my addiction. Making amends with them was the most important thing to me, especially restoring my relationship with my son.
When I was on drugs, I lied to my son frequently and as a result, he wanted nothing to do with me. He knew I was lying, but he didn’t know what I was lying about or why. Now, I’m so proud of him and so happy I have a relationship with him. I got to see him graduate from college with honors and be offered a great job!
My advice to others with addiction is get help before you become like I was; suffering overdoses, lying, and causing pain. You just need to go get help. I didn’t know what I was walking into, but with Spectrum, it was the best thing that ever happened to me without a doubt.”
At Spectrum, we understand your disease, and we’re ready and willing to help. Whether your life was like Jeffrey’s or worse, we’ve seen it all: from homelessness to multiple overdoses, trauma and grief, co-occurring disorders and mental health issues. Addiction doesn’t have to keep claiming your life, regain your freedom today by calling Inpatient Services at (800)-366-7732 or Outpatient Services at (800) 464-9555.