Recovery Hero of the Week: Nick Howard

By
Nick Howard

"During early recovery, my biggest challenges were my pride and arrogance. I realized that I have a sick and twisted way of thinking. I felt that because of my education and social status that I was better than everyone else."

Age: 33
Sober since November 13, 2013
Currently living in Harrogate, TN

My name is Nick Howard and I am a grateful recovering addict. I understand what the term sick and suffering with the disease of addiction truly means as I have suffered with the disease of addiction for nearly a decade and a half of my life. I know what it is like to feel helpless, hopeless, and seeing no means to an end. It took a power greater than myself to restore me to sanity.

I was introduced to painkillers at the age of 13 following a major surgery I had on my head. I suffered from built up fluid on the brain and a neurosurgeon had to drill a small hole in my skull to reroute the cerebral spinal fluid. I was prescribed drugs to help me deal with the surgery.

"This is my story from the depths of addiction to the road to recovery. If I put my recovery first, everything else comes first class," Nick says.

What really kick started my addiction was when I was diagnosed with extensive stage 3C testicular cancer at the age of 20 and learned the effects of morphine. I chased that feeling for the next 10 years. I used every type of pill and liquid that I could get my hands on.

I pursued a bachelor of science degree, and then went to pharmacy school to earn a doctorate in pharmacy. I did all of this while going through active addiction. By the time I received my registered pharmacist license, my addiction was full blown. I took every kind of powerful narcotic I could get my hands on. I overdosed on countless occasions as well as even ended up on a ventilator. I had no control over my addiction. It was my master and I was its slave. Eventually, I found myself arrested for stealing CII medications, substances the U.S. has defined as dangerous and highly addictive.

I lost my license as a registered pharmacist. Addiction shunned me away from my family and my friends. In fact, I even lost who I was. My addiction took me to jail both on the outside as well as within my mind. What really led me to recovery was going to rehab. I spent 9 months in treatment and really began to see myself for what I truly was.

During early recovery, my biggest challenges were my pride and arrogance. I realized that I have a sick and twisted way of thinking. I felt that because of my education and social status that I was better than everyone else. I relapsed in rehab from taking non-narcotic medicine and had to repeat it. That was an experience that taught me how powerful the grips of addiction were on me. Addiction is no respecter of persons as it does not care who I am. It wants one thing and one thing only: my soul.

After completing rehab, I went into drug court in the Bell County Court System. I spent 18 months there. I attended outpatient treatment services every week. I also attended 2 to 3 AA/NA meetings and took drug tests on a weekly basis—all on top of maintaining a job and just doing the next right thing. It was overwhelming at first but the skills and recovery tools that I learned in rehab helped me adapt to dealing with the emotions that going through drug court brought to the surface.

Now, I am 5 years in recovery and I am slowly putting my life back together. I acquired a teaching position as adjunct faculty at a local community college. I also obtained a position as a meat cutter at a grocery store in Tennessee. I currently attend and co-facilitate meetings at a non-profit faith-based ministry in Kentucky. God has brought wonderful people into my life and has answered my prayers by bringing me a best friend and loving significant other.

It is still dawning on me just how cunning, baffling, and powerful addiction really is. And if there is one thing I could impart with the world, it is that there is life waiting for you outside the depths of addiction. I want to share with you that there is hope and help for those at the grips of this disease. God has given me another opportunity at life and I am forever grateful.

I share this with you so that it may inspire those who are still sick and suffering. Today, I am given an option: I can be a statistic or choose to be the difference. As of this moment, I choose to be the difference. It isn’t easy but nothing worth having ever is.

Would you like to be featured in our Recovery Hero of the Week series? Send in your story (500–1000 words) to [email protected] and you might just be selected as our next featured hero. Thank you for spreading the message!

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