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"I've got a second chance, it's my duty to give back." Former opioid abusers help current addicts

It's a grassroots way to fight the opioid crisis
Posted at 11:27 PM, Aug 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-17 23:33:03-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — "These drugs... the things that I've done... They stole my life from me," Jeff Goodwin, a former opioid addict, said.

He never thought he'd be where he is today.

"I kind of went through all the phases of drug addiction," Goodwin said. He used LSD at 21, cocaine at 23, and crack cocaine by 27. Before he knew it, he was shooting heroin. "I thought I would die in a bathroom, probably a public bathroom," said Goodwin.

James Groves was worried about the same fate. He had an addiction problem for 30 years.

"I'm 49 years old.... so the majority of my life," Groves said.

They both fell into opioid abuse they same way.

"I got hooked on opioids in 2008 due to a back injury," Goodwin said.

"I broke my back, and I was on fentanyl patches and pills. It just staggered downhill from there," said Groves.

They're not alone. The CDC estimates that 21-29% of patients prescribed chronic pain medicine abuse it.

"Even when people try to help you, and they're there for you, you just keep denying it," Groves said.

They said they were both fortunate enough not to die from their addiction. The recent United Nation's annual World Drug Report revealed that 2/3 of drug deaths worldwide were caused by opioids. Erie County had the highest rate of opioid deaths per capita than any other county in New York in 2016, according to the New York State Department of Health.

"There's so many people, friends and family, that we've lost. It's just a struggle downhill for them and then they die, OD," Groves said.

But in the midst of the opioid crisis, these two men managed to pull themselves out. At their lowest point, they found Adult Teen Challenge, a Christian based recovery program. Both have been sober for over a year.

Goodwin and Groves met in the recovery program and instantly became best friends. Now, they help each other and others as much as they can.

"He's definitely my accountability. Not only a best friend, a brother," Groves said.

"We've had a lot of conversations right here on this very porch with folks about addiction and recovering from drug addiction, and that it's possible to recover from drug addiction," Goodwin said.

The two sit on their porch, attempting to help addicts who pass by.

"I've actually spoke to a lot of people on this block about addiction. We've tried to get some people help on this block, whether or not they've actually made it there that's on them," said Goodwin.

"It gives you something else to look forward to. Instead of killing yourself, you're saving lives," Groves said.

They hope to give someone they recovery they experienced.

"It saved my life. Truly. I feel great now. It's different," Groves said.

"I don't ever want to go back to what I came from. God gave me this second chance. I'm very alive, and I love my life," said Goodwin.