A Sobering Experience
Let me paint the picture for you. It’s late morning on December 6, 2014. I’ve spent the last 24 hours ingesting a lethal dose of opiates and am fading in and out of consciousness, head in the sink, face down in my own vomit. To be clear, this isn’t a normal drug bender, or a normal overdose, this is a suicide attempt. No one should find me till I’m gone. Something knocks me out of the sink onto the floor, my head smacks the toilet. My stepmom, a nurse working third shift at the time, happened to wake up.
Call it coincidence or divine intervention, usually, she would be asleep for another few hours. I was unconscious leaning against the door when she heard my unusual breathing pattern. She pushed her way in knocking me to the floor. I remember when the EMT’s arrived I refused to get in the ambulance. I told them I had no interest in going with them, and that I was fine. No Bueno, they called the cops, when one arrived I gave up the fight and got into the ambulance.
This is what rock bottom looks like. I was twenty-five at the time, my marriage unraveled, and I was living in my parent’s basement. My mental state was best described as volatile and I was addicted to a wide array of drugs. I spent the next two weeks in the hospital. The first few days I wasn’t conscious and had to be intubated. I remember having the worst nightmares of my entire life. When I regained consciousness the doctors told me I was lucky. Had I been found five minutes later I would have suffered permanent brain damage, ten minutes later and I would have been dead. Near death, experiences have a way of altering one’s perspective.
The Origins of Open Discussion
My next great shift in perspective led to the creation of Open Discussion (O.D.) Apparel. The early part of this year I was working at a clothing store that sold the brand Tentree. An environmentally conscious apparel line built around planting ten trees for each piece of clothing sold. To date, they have planted more than twenty million trees worldwide while creating environmental awareness around their product. Tentree impacts the environment with their mission. My mission is to save lives. My vision is to create the most interactive apparel brand ever conceptualized. With a focus on increasing addiction awareness, and providing aid to those in need. Specifically, donating Narcan the opiate overdose antidote. Narcan saved my life in the story mentioned above.
Our apparel is the vehicle for our message because we are more than an apparel company. In order to become the most interactive socially driven brand in existence, my story will begin to unfold Monday with the release of the first in a series of podcasts with my family in an effort to provide differing perspectives on addiction. We will continue publishing interviews with those impacted by addiction and will outline the secret to how I have dealt with addiction in the hope that others may gain from my experience all in the name of creating an open discussion.
The Beauty of Experiences
My overdose was a life-changing moment and I’m grateful it happened. I was finally sick and tired of being sick and tired. I gave up on trying to kill myself, I gave up on rationalizing my drug use, accepted all the negativity in my life and the role I played in it. This is my story, sadly an all too common tale in today’s America. This is where the second great shift in my perspective comes into play.
One of the beautiful parts of learning to live again is realizing you’re not as special as you might have thought. There are more than 23.5 million Americans struggling with substance abuse. Overdose has become more and more common. The President has proclaimed the opioid epidemic to be a public health crisis. Recent studies show since 2001 the opioid crisis cost our country more than one trillion dollars and projected to cost an additional five hundred billion by 2020. In 2016 alone the US had more than 64,000 overdose deaths. My mission is to change this gruesome trend.
Open Discussion O.D. Apparel is more than an apparel brand, it is a movement. A movement with the goal of revolutionizing the dialogue on addiction and drug use. Simply put, the current system isn’t working. Only one in ten addicts seek treatment and treatment is only successful for one in ten attendees. I’m no math wiz, but that equates to one in one hundred finding success. Narcotics Anonymous and drug rehab facilities are great but it is clear they aren’t enough. My vision is to break the barrier of anonymity because anonymity inherently promotes the negative stigma of addiction. The people impacted by addiction will serve as the inspiration for our pieces; we collaborate with addicts, their loved ones, and local artists to create our designs. O.D. is interwoven in the fabric of the community we serve. Each piece tells a story.