For most people struggling with substance use disorder, it begins with experimentation in the teens.
But why do some people go from pot to pills to heroin? George Clark is a recovering from heroin addiction.
You’ll be surprised where he got hooked on the drug.
George and Ashley Clark are parents to Neveah and Skye. Ashley works in the medical field, but still didn’t realize that George was using heroin.
“Then all of a sudden he started doing weird things; like falling asleep in the midst of eating and I was like what was wrong with him? And I had never seen anything like that,” Ashley said.
Ashley was aware of George’s history with drugs. He’d spent time in federal prison for selling ecstasy. But George had been hiding his opiate use for years.
“I started doing OxyContin when I was working on this farm with this kid and he would steal them from his grandpa, you know,” George said.
George’s pill habit grew quickly.
“I get them for $5 and I’m doing like 10 of them a day, you know. That’s 300 milligrams. I got up to 600 milligrams of Oxy and Roxy a day,” George said.
When he was sent to prison for dealing, George couldn’t get the pills anymore. But there was something else he could get.
“So I actually didn’t do heroin until I went to prison — the federal prison. Actually, yeah, I started shooting, I never shot anything before until I went to prison,” George said.
When George got out on parole, he met Ashley, who was a single mom to Neveah. They married in 2016. George struggled to stay clean and while he’d have short periods of sobriety, they didn’t last.
George Clark: So the thing that really sucks about addiction is that you get to a point where–first of all you’re embarrassed of it.
Anglea Kennecke: How much does shame have to do with it?
George Clark: Shame, like this is the worst thing that anybody could ever do to people. You just get outcasted; you lose your friends; you lose your family, Now the only other people you can rely on are other addicts because they are in the struggle and they understand it to.
George’s continued use eventually led him to violate parole and he ended up back behind bars.
“Like nothing was going to stop me and I hated it. I’d cry out to God, would you just take this from me; like look what it’s doing,” George said.
He also saw opioids destroy the lives of those around him
“In the last year, I saw four people overdose. They all came back though. One of my best friends, Ivan Warren, he died about a year ago; he died a year ago today. I was the first person to ever give him a opiate,” George said.
George’s addiction is rooted in his childhood.
“A week before my fifth birthday, My real dad he killed himself. He was addicted to drugs as well,” George said.
George says he rebelled against his stepfather who was in the military and felt he couldn’t live up to his expectations. Drugs were his escape.
But he credits his wife Ashley for not giving up on him.
George Clark: That’s the strongest woman I know. She’s just always seen more.
Anglea Kennecke: Seen more in you.
George Clark: Uh huh. I always knew that.
Anglea Kennecke: Than the addict?
George Clark: Yeah.
“And so when you know that side of a person, you fall in love with that person and you see them succeeding and doing so well and all of a sudden addiction hits you in the face and slowly starts eating away at everything you have built. But there’s always that person that you remember that you know is in there,” Ashley said.
George was put on the prescription medication, Soboxone to combat his opioid addiction, but he says that didn’t work. Neither did a second stint in prison.
“If you’re not really ready to stop, none of these things are going to help anybody. It doesn’t matter what it is. You literally have to hate this with everything that you have. That’s the only way you’ll ever stop,” George said.
George struggles to stay clean, but is making progress.
“There’s always hope and there’s people around who care and who are willing to walk with you,” George said.
The Clarks are learning to just take it day-by-day.
“If he were to slip again — he might. That doesn’t mean you’re a failure and you start over at day zero. You just get back up and continue walking,” Ashley said.
“If I take every day as it is; I take it humbly — thankful for what I’m given,” George said.