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My Name is Ryan Donnelly and I am an Addict with 4 Years of Sobriety

In many states, painkiller abuse has dropped nearly 20%. The reason for the drop is the lack of pills on the black market, stricter laws and monitoring programs and the increasing price of painkillers. These are all small victories for the public, but what many don't realize is that there is a huge increase in heroin use.  As prescription pills become harder to find, addicts turn to alternatives to get high. What is discouraging to me, is the lack of education about opiate based painkillers.  Everyone knows that heroin is bad, as we are taught from a young age that it is a hardcore deadly drug. Yet painkillers are normally pushed to the side during drug education, even though they are basically just as deadly when abused.

I read many online news websites on topics of opiate painkillers and heroin abuse and read the comments that readers leave. The majority of the comments are from people who do not understand what it's like to be an addict.  Rather than show their support, they berate the readers (and writer) with comments that show how uneducated the public is when it comes to the opiate epidemic plaguing our country.

Recovery from any substance (drugs or alcohol) has been taught that it should remain anonymous. It has been drilled into many people's heads that they need to keep their addiction private and never publicly admit the struggles they are facing.  It makes me wonder if this is healthy or not for a large majority of addicts in recovery. Our society has built a stigma that people who use drugs are less of a human being have a very big problem with this.

Now let me be honest. My family has deep roots when it comes to Alcoholics Anonymous. My Grandfather was a member of AA for close to 50 years. He influenced hundreds, if not thousands of lives and he even attended meetings with me in my early stages of recovery.  I am not against AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) or NA (Narcotics Anonymous) one bit. In fact I know it helps millions of people a year.  I personally feel that the stigma that has been built up around drug abusers has been hushed up and looked upon negatively.

I feel that sharing my story about my struggles with drugs and alcohol not only helped me, but has helped thousands of others as well. After I became sober, I started a blog and posted videos on Youtube to tell my story. It was extremely therapeutic for me to talk about what I went through first hand.  It allowed me a sense of freedom. Not only did I not have to be ashamed, but I didn't have to hide a huge part of what made me who I am today. Rather than keep my struggles private, I found it far more empowering to be open about my addiction and talk with others going through the same. This helped me to learn more about who I am, as well as allowed me to help thousands of others through my blog, website and videos.

This topic of abuse comes up a lot between me and my friends who are in recovery themselves. I understand the need for some to stay anonymous, but for the majority of people I think it could be beneficial to be open with their friends and loved ones. Taking responsibility for ones actions can be extremely beneficial to both the user and their family. By being honest, and open about my problems, it has helped me to understand who I am as a person. If you or someone you know is an addict, don't be ashamed to get help.

-Ryan Donnelly


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