From the outside looking in, no one would have predicted the wild self-destructive path that Ryan Hampton would go down. With a comfortable upbringing and raised by a loving family, he was well-educated and nowhere near the influences of heroin that would become his drug of choice in adulthood and take over his life.
But like countless others, Ryan’s addiction began when he was prescribed painkillers after a surgery. It was supposed to be a standard medical procedure to fix his knee, but it became something much more intense. In an article he penned for Huffington Post, he admits, “What began as an innocent need to relieve pain from an acute injury turned into a chemical dependency.”
Ryan is not alone. Today, 20 to 30 percent of opioid drugs that are legally prescribed by a medical professional for severe pain are misused. In just the past 15 years, the amount of prescription opioids sold in the U.S. nearly quadrupled and the number of deaths from prescription opioids also increased by the same startling amount., Perhaps most disturbing of all, an estimated 52 million Americans use prescription drugs for non-medical reasons at least once in their lives.
Ryan believes he is one of the lucky ones in America struggling with addiction that was actually able to get treatment. According to data, only 1 in 10 of the more than 22 million people in America are actually able to do so.
Still, after completing treatment and leaving rehab, Ryan’s true wake-up call was the untimely deaths of four friends. He knew he had to do something to bring awareness and finally speak out. He said, “I could no longer be silent and live in the shadows while my friends were dying.”
The Big Initiative
Now 18 months clean, Ryan’s commitment to his sobriety has helped to develop him into a leader and a visible advocate for addiction reform on a national public policy level. His dedication to educating the country and identifying solutions on drug abuse has led Ryan to be selected as a 2016 delegate to the Democratic National Convention. On this national platform he intends to candidly and specifically discuss the need for reform in treating addiction.
This summer, Ryan will be hitting the road with his best friend, Garrett, and reaching out to audiences nationwide. Leading up to the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, he and Garrett will travel 2,500 miles across the country, cross 12 state lines and talk to people from all walks of life, all of which will be chronicled in a web series titled Facing Addiction Across America. The first video is scheduled to go live on Monday, July 11, 2016.
Ryan’s own recovery began at the Pasadena Recovery Center and so it’s no wonder that his first stop in his expansive journey is a place where he considers home. This past weekend, he spent time at PRC where he even presented a 30-day scholarship to a community member in active addiction. In what he considers to be America’s most urgent health crisis, Ryan’s hope is to put a face on the topic of addiction and convince the nation that this is no longer a problem that can be ignored.
 Vowles, K. E., Mcentee, M. L., Julnes, P. S., Frohe, T., Ney, J. P., & Goes, D. N. (2015). Rates of opioid misuse, abuse, and addiction in chronic pain. Pain, 156(4), 569-576. doi:10.1097/01.j.pain.0000460357.01998.f1
 Vital Signs: Overdoses of Prescription Opioid Pain Relievers --- United States, 1999--2008. (2011). Retrieved July 10, 2016, from http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6043a4.htm?s_cid=mm6043a4_w#fig2
 Understanding the Epidemic. (2016). Retrieved July 10, 2016, from http://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/epidemic/
 Hooked on Pharmaceuticals: Prescription Drug Abuse in America. (2015, July 29). Retrieved July 10, 2016, from https://www.drugwatch.com/2015/07/29/drug-abuse-in-america/
 Hampton, R. (2016, May 16). Why I Started Facing Addiction Out Loud. Retrieved July 10, 2016, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ryan-hampton/why-i-started-facing-addi_b_9993354.html