Recovery Stories

Richard P.

My name is Joey P.

I was born in the small town of Bogalusa, LA. I moved a little later closer to the town of KILN, MS with my father and mother. They were both avid church goers. However, at home there was all kinds of abuse going on in my home. I was also bullied in school, so needless to say there was no love at school as far as I could see, and then no love to go back to at home. I have two younger siblings, a brother and a sister. I was dedicated to God at a young age by our preacher which may be the only reason I am still alive today. I like to believe that to be the case. With all this abuse going on, at the age of 12 after one of my father’s rants, my mother asked if I thought we should move back to Bogalusa, LA with my maternal grandparents. My answer was, “Most definitely, because he is going to kill us if we don’t.” What I didn’t know at the time is it wouldn’t be much longer until I was killing myself on a regular basis. I didn’t interact much with the children at my new school, but once one of them interacted with me, I found myself hanging out with the “in” crowd. I started smoking cigarettes and marijuana and drinking around the age of 12. What I didn’t know then is that I had a horrible disease called addiction. By the age of 15 I was a full-blown alcoholic and drug addict. My peers were experimenting with many other things such as cocaine and prescription opioids around this time, and it wouldn’t be long before I was doing the same. When I turned 16 I dropped out of school, and my two maternal uncles put me to work. I was surrounded by drugs then. Whilst my uncles would’ve never gotten them for me, there were plenty of other people who were willing. By the end of this year, I was hooked on prescription opioids. The next year came cocaine. By the time I was 18, I was doing these intravenously and doctor shopping to get the pills that my brain and body so desperately told me I needed at the time. This continued for a couple of years. By the time I was 20 doctors that just wrote prescription opioids for any reason I could come up with, also known as “pill mills”, were getting shut down left and right. This is when I discovered heroin. It seemed my life turned into complete hell when I started doing this drug. It was like I couldn’t even function without it. I would’ve done whatever I had to do to get this drug. It was powerful and lord knows it had me in its grasp. My dreams were put in the back of my mind with my addiction on the forefront. I lost an uncle that I mentioned earlier in March of 2018 to this disease and a fiancé in January of 2019. That didn’t stop this disease from continuing. As a matter of fact, it got worse. I started doing methamphetamines too because I made this insane promise that I wouldn’t do heroin anymore which was actually mostly fentanyl at this point. Instead, I started mixing the two to try and numb the pain that I didn’t want to feel. At the time, I didn’t know how to cope. From the time I started doing this horrible drug up until January of 2021, I have overdosed over 20 times. I have been in and out of jail. I have been in and out of rehabs. None of this worked because I wasn’t ready. I walked into Woodlake Addiction Recovery Center on 01/26/2021 beat down, broken, and hating my life. I was spiritually bankrupt, physically dried up, and mentally demented. However, something changed. January 27, 2021 was my first day sober inside of this facility and I have been ever since. I paid attention and took suggestions that were recommended when I got out. I still live in my hometown of Bogalusa, LA which is still to this day a very drug infested town. On my first night out of rehabilitation I was at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. I continued to go to meetings, and found a sponsor that would call me out on things I shouldn’t have been doing instead of co-signing them. I did Intensive Outpatient Rehabilitation better known as IOP and Outpatient Rehabilitation better known as OP followed by continuing therapy. I took medicine to help my chemical imbalance which was a result of mental illnesses that went hand in hand with addiction. I started working 12 steps immediately, and this helped me find my path back to God but in a whole new light which I hadn’t understood before. This has taught me how to live life on life’s terms. I have had many friends overdose and die from fentanyl poisoning including one of my best friends in December of 2021 since I turned my life around into recovery. At one point I was dating someone who ended up slipping back into addiction and getting pregnant with my child at the same time. She continued to use during the whole pregnancy, and even though my baby girl came out a little premature, she is a walking miracle too. Being in this situation brought me very close to my own slip, but instead I called a friend to come get me away from the situation. This is why it is good to have great friends in recovery. I continue to do step work with others to this day to avoid that mistake. I am also a person who represents recovery in every way I possibly can. My first job after rehab was at our local YMCA as a janitor. Then I became a behavioral health technician at the same rehabilitation center I had attended a year later. Now, I work for Project ADAPT, a program with ADAPT, inc. which is an outpatient recovery center as a peer support specialist, peer recovery advocate, and part of a 24/7 mobile opioid response team in my community. This is a beautiful thing because it gives me an opportunity to talk to people and be living proof that even though I was in the same predicament at one time, there are indeed better ways to live life. The people that used to arrest me and administer Narcan to me as an opioid reversal tool are the same people I work alongside now to try and make our town a better place by conquering the disease of addiction. I am a firm believer in righting wrongs. As an example I believe if I used to be greedy, I should be a giving person. My personality has totally changed from what it used to be. I have a beautiful family now including a beautiful wife, and my children can see me as a person they can trust and talk to about anything. All the trust I have broken in the past within my own family has slowly returned. I have gained some great friends in recovery whom would do just about anything for me and vice versa at the drop of a hat. As a person in recovery I am very thankful for things like opioid reversal tools such as Narcan/Naloxone. If one person would have given up on me, I wouldn’t be in the position I am today as a person in and fully representing recovery. God gets all the glory, because without him I know I wouldn’t be alive today. The funny thing is I was scared to death to go to treatment in my home town which is where the facility I went to was located. However, as hindsight is always 20/20, looking back at things, I now understand that God had a bigger plan the entire time. One of the suggestions was changing people, places, and things. I managed to do this by hanging out with new friends who weren’t doing drugs, by not going to the drug dealers house, and not doing drugs. It really is that simple especially when there is maintenance within oneself. Most of my problems are internal. I face the good and bad parts of life head on now. I slowly have become more aware of things that wouldn’t have even stood out to me before and have become willing to work on them. I would like to close by saying that recovery is possible even in someone’s hometown. I am living proof of that.

Joey P.
Sober Since: 01/27/2021