Our Team in Recovery: Bill K
Authored by Audra Franchini
Bill K had been living a double life for nearly seven years when it all came crashing down in May of 2012. That evening, he set out on what had become his daily routine: driving in to the city to meet a dealer, where he’d buy roughly 100 OxyContins or Percocets, sell all but 10 or 15 to friends in the neighborhood, and then use the rest himself. When Bill had started taking them at age 17, the pills gave him a complete sense of ease and comfort. But now, at age 24, they’d left him pale, out of shape, zombified, completely lost. Minor arrests had piled up: DUI, multiple possession charges. And yet, “if I didn’t have a few pills in my system,” he says, “I couldn’t even get out of bed in the morning.”
Bill met with a dealer that night who had a double life of his own: he was a confidential informant working with the DEA and the local opioid task force. Bill purchased 100 30mg Percocets and started driving away when a fleet of unmarked SUVs suddenly lit up like fireworks. Out poured armed SWAT agents, screaming at him to put his hands up. “It was the scariest moment of my life, but I also felt a certain degree of relief, because I knew there was no getting out of this one,” he recalls. “I was tired.”
Bill spent the next few weeks in going through withdrawal, cold-turkey in the county jail. Over the next several months, he spent his time in his cell contemplating the opportunities he’d wasted and the choices he’d made that had brought him to his current low state. He recognized that drugs and alcohol had completely taken control of his life – he felt completely and utterly powerless. He desperately wanted to change, but simply didn’t know how.
With the help of his father and a solid criminal defense attorney, Bill was granted admission to a conditional pretrial release program. At that point, he saw zero hope for his future. “All I wanted to do at that point – was simply not get in any more trouble,” he says. But at the inpatient rehab facility where he was taken, he met people who’d gone through similar things he’d experienced. He encountered, for the first time, the possibility of recovery. And he rediscovered hope—not only to stay out of trouble, but to have a happy, fulfilling life.
“I had zero preconceived notions that I had any more good options,” he says. “What I had been doing to-date clearly wasn’t working. So I threw my hands up and surrendered my own willpower.”
For a few years, all was well. Bill worked the 12 steps, worked a series of steady marketing jobs, and developed a support network of friends in recovery. He had recently received a promotion, bought a new car and had a good relationship with his girlfriend. But he relapsed in 2016, when he obtained an Adderall prescription to help with his increasing workload and soon began abusing the drug. Without realizing it, his ego had crept back in.
“One of the things which was important to me, which I eventually fell short on – was to keep recovery and service to others at the forefront of my life,” Bill says. “Because, at the end of the day, the accumulation of material possessions and perfecting how things look on the outside were not the things which were going to help me to recover.”
Rock bottom came four months later, when Bill—his relationships severed, his employment lost—called a friend one night around midnight. He felt miserable, broken, desperate and hopeless. He told his friend he needed help. That friend helped to slowly bring Bill back into the fold of the recovery community.
“It was an incredibly humbling experience to tell these people in the recovery community who’d counted on me for years – that I had relapsed,” Bill says.
At the same time, Bill’s younger brother became a shining example of a different path forward. He had struggled with a heroin addiction himself before getting sober and undergoing a personal transformation which had Bill intrigued. The brothers discussed the idea of selfishness & self-centeredness being at the core of addiction and alcoholism – and the spiritual transformation necessary to recover.
“I followed his lead, taking action through The 12 Steps,” Bill said, “and soon enough, I found myself experiencing the same spiritual awakening my brother clearly had.”
In May of 2017, Bill was hired by Recovery Centers of America – a job which, he was extremely excited about as it allowed him to put his skills and experience to work in a manner which might benefit others seeking recovery. Bill works as a member of RCA’s marketing team – helping to spread the message of hope and recovery to individuals and families struggling with the disease of addiction. A high point in his career came recently during a trip to The White House with Dr. Deni Carise, Chief Scientific Officer at RCA, where they met with The President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis to provide testimony and ideas on how fight America’s opioid epidemic.
“It was a surreal moment for me. I was humbled and grateful. I reflected on how just a few years ago, I was sitting in that jail cell, wanting to die, having zero hope for the future of my life,” he says.
Bill’s journey has been long and winding, but he’s arrived at a place of stability, where he’s able to enjoy living a life of purpose by helping others on the path to recovery. The spiritual awakening he discovered after his relapse? He maintains it by continuing to reach out to others and offering help however, wherever he can. “It’s never perfect, but I try to be of maximum service to others, wherever I can,” he says. “When I’m living to help others rather than focus on myself – I experience a degree of freedom which I never found in a drink or a drug.”