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Almost dying isn’t even enough to stop us

Dillon McClernon

Authored by Dillon McClernon

Readers, please be aware content below may be difficult to read and/or triggering for some. If you or a loved one is suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction, call 1-800-RECOVERY.

One of the worst times I overdosed was when I was on my way to treatment.

For the umpteenth time, I had relapsed. My mom – who still to this day hasn’t given up on me – showed up at the place I was living and convinced me to go to treatment.

There was no way I was going without getting high a few more times – even though I was sick. Really sick. I was dehydrated, my kidneys were shutting down, and my liver was failing. But that didn’t stop me from asking my mom to pull over on the side of the road or at a rest stop to get high.

My disease knew what it was doing. I had overdosed on the same stuff five days in a row, and I was going for day six.

I waited in the car while my mom went inside of the treatment facility to check me in.

That’s where my memory stops, because that’s when the overdose began.

My mom said she kept looking out of the window and saw me slumped over. This was a normal position for me – throwing up and nodding off are a part of this disease.

But then she noticed I hadn’t moved at all.

When she came out to check on me, and couldn’t wake me up, she knew I was overdosing. I can only imagine what she thought, looking at my pale, sweaty face. What she thought when she saw the needle that was in my arm a few minutes earlier sticking out of my stomach, because I slumped over and fell onto it. What she thought when an ambulance arrived and used Narcan 4 times. What she thought when I wasn’t waking up.

I remember eventually waking up in the ambulance, unable to breathe, unable to move my body. The Narcan was wearing off, and I was overdosing again, so they gave me another dose.

At some point, my mom called my sister – who lives in another state – to come, because she was sure they were going to have to say their goodbyes.

But I woke up. I woke up to the same story I had lived so many times, to the same look on my mom’s face – a mixture of relief and grief.

Apologies don’t exactly cut it when you have an addiction. You apologize so many times, the apologies lose their meaning. I had nothing to say, because there was nothing to say.

You see how badly you affect the people around you. How much pain and suffering you cause them. Yet you can’t stop. I knew I had become a shell of the person I used to be. When I’m in my addiction, I don’t have a soul. I don’t have connections, I don’t have relationships. I don’t have anything besides my addiction.

But there’s something different this time around. I’ve tasted sobriety. I know how much my life improves when I’m sober. It’s so much more than just being in recovery; it’s having emotions, genuine friendships, building connections, having people to lean on when you aren’t doing well. Life has meaning and life is enjoyable.

I’m in treatment right now. And I’m feeling more hopeful than I’ve ever felt. I want to get all those positive feelings associated with sobriety back. I’m going to fight harder for it than I’ve ever fought before.

I hope you will, too. Whether you’re fighting an addiction yourself or you love someone with an addiction, don’t give up. Keep fighting for yourself and keep fighting for your loved one. There is always hope.

  • Kelsey, current RCA patient

Authored by

Dillon McClernon

Dillon McClernon

Dillon currently serves as the Senior Director of Sales and Marketing at RCA. After his tenure as Chief Communications Officer and senior advisor to RCA, he opted for a full-time position at RCA where he could build a new team linking sales and marketing to directly impact RCA’s mission of saving 1 million lives.


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