CHRISMAN – Recovering addict Nick Morgan brings first-person experience to his anti-abuse message.
His presentations earlier this week to Edgar County high school and junior high school students were blunt and realistic. He asked students if they recalled seeing photos in DARE classes or other anti-drug programs of skinny, wasted, dirty looking addicts with the warning that was the future after starting substance abuse.
“I saw those pictures and thought I will never be that guy,” he said. “I became that guy, homeless and living under a pier in South Florida.”
Morgan’s appearance at Edgar County schools and a public presentation Oct. 24 at Mayo School was sponsored by the Community Addiction Response and Education (CARE) coalition dedicated to fighting opioid addiction in Edgar County.
He started using cannabis and sneaking alcohol from his father’s liquor cabinet at age 12.
“I used drugs and alcohol because I liked the way it made me feel,” he said.
Morgan admits by middle school he was out of control and late one night he woke up with his parents and two strangers standing over him. He was taken to a boot camp institution labeled as a school that was supposed to help kids get off drugs.
“This school had nothing to do with education,” said Morgan. “The first four or five months were physical abuse.”
As an addict, Morgan was also a master manipulator of people until his family was forced to turn their backs on him. He progressed from cannabis and alcohol to pills and finally opioid use – first with Vicodin and eventually injecting heroin.
“I got to a point I was suicidal everyday,” said Morgan. “I accepted the fact that I was going to die an addict.”
His first time in rehab was after his mother tearfully confronted him, but he was there for her and checked out after a couple of weeks. Another stint in rehab resulted in meeting a young woman, falling in love, and they checked out with the idea of living together and keeping each other clean.
“We were using in a week,” Morgan said. “She ran out of money, and I didn’t love her anymore and left.”
She died a short time later of an overdose. This was the second person close to him that overdosed. The third trip to rehab finally stuck.
“It’s crazy to think I made it out,” Morgan said, adding many of the people he did drugs with died or went to prison. “It’s heartbreaking, but there is a solution.”
Morgan stressed as young adults capable of making their own decisions the students are responsible for their choices. It is not someone else’s fault if they drink or do drugs
“If you are with friends who are doing stuff you know is wrong, you need to rethink that. You are who you hang out with,” said Morgan. “I hope no one ever experiences what I did.”
Faith also plays a role for Morgan’s sobriety. He does not attend church regularly but still believes God told him to start Crush the Epidemic in order to help other substance abusers. He also prays before every presentation that his message will make a difference for at least one person.
Finding support is also important for recovery. His support was and continues to be other addicts who encouraged him and told him he could get better.
“I’m still an addict. My disease is just arrested,” said Morgan. “I couldn’t do it alone. I still can’t do it alone.”