Matt watched experimenting with substances in his youth evolve into a dangerous, expensive habit—a habit that eventually led to a dark climax. But his story didn’t end there. Read how his addiction treatment brought him out of using drugs and into a better lifestyle.
How did your addiction begin?
When I was 13, I started experimenting with drugs, like marijuana and mushrooms. Then I
started getting into painkillers, and over time it got out of hand. It started with having 2-3 pills a day to eventually spending $2,000 – $3,000 a month on painkillers between me and my ex-wife. I knew something had to give.
When did you recognize using was becoming a problem?
I knew it was a problem when I found myself waiting all day for a drug dealer or someone I knew to get a hold of me once they could find something. I spent my day in anxiety and panic, and then I would get mad at them when they didn’t come through for me. I also knew from financial reasons. I was lying and stealing from my family and friends.
How did your habit impact your family?
With finances you notice you don’t have enough money to go grocery shopping because you’re buying drugs. I really noticed it after getting a domestic battery charge. I went to jail for a while, and I was served papers from my ex-wife saying I couldn’t see my kids anymore for everything I was charged with. I was taking too many mental health drugs. Eventually I was in solitary confinement, went into psychosis, and felt like I may never come back.
What convinced you to enter treatment?
After I was released from solitary confinement, I felt like I had nothing to live for. I was facing 28 years in prison with felonies and domestic abuse charges.
One night in December, I had a bottle of Tylenol PM and drank a bottle of Crown Royal and a few beers. I laid in the snow for six and a half hours until my sister found me. I had cut off my bracelet from probation and tried to kill myself. I ended up flatlining in the hospital for five minutes and came back to life after several CPR attempts from the doctors. The cold had been enough to stop me from metabolizing the pills.
I knew I’d be in trouble for cutting off the probation bracelet. I had already spent time in jail. Finally, my dad convinced me to go to The Walker Center. I was granted temporary release to go to treatment, and my charges later got dropped to misdemeanors.
How would you describe your experience at The Walker Center?
It was really good for me. You watch people’s lives fully transform. I got off all the mental health medications I was on previously. It got me away from all the negative influences in my life and gave me time to think with like-minded people who had similar issues.
I had no idea how prevalent some of these drugs were with normal, everyday people that were losing everything. When you think of people who use meth, you think of gross, missing teeth, etc. But these were normal people that were losing everything, and coming to The Walker Center was life-saving.
What advice or tools have helped you in recovery?
What’s helped me the most is finding a hobby that isn’t another person or a drug. You can’t make other people or drugs your hobby. It’s not fair to anybody. Photography and music helped me more than anything—trying to portray your feelings and your experience through those mediums as much as possible. Since then I’ve been published on a magazine cover and promoted at my work. Things are a lot better now.