Finding a future after opioid abuse, a young father gets his life back

The Odyssey House Art Project is comprised of men and women in treatment for substance use and mental health disorders. In a city where 1,374 died from drug overdoses in 2016 – and someone dies from an overdose every seven hours – these services are more critical than ever. Here is one young man’s story.

Young man heroin recovery artWhen he was prescribed Percocet for a football injury, Joe could not have guessed how it would alter the trajectory of his life. At 19, he had a stable job with a promising career path as an electrician. Five years later, he had a full-blown heroin addiction, lost his job, and most of his friends.

Growing up in Brooklyn, Joe was close with this mother. It was after her death, following a decade-long struggle with heart problems and kidney cancer, that he turned from prescription drugs to heroin. “I couldn’t stand to watch her suffer,” he says.

Slowly, the rest of his life started to unravel. His friends began to keep their distance. He stopped showing up to work on time and was fired. But he and his girlfriend continued their heroin use even after learning she was pregnant, believing the withdrawal effects would result in a miscarriage. As a result, his son was born with opioids in his system and was weaned on morphine until he was six weeks old.  It was the wakeup call Joe needed. He decided to get clean and to focus his future on being a role model for his child. “My son is my first priority. Everything I do is for him.”

With his girlfriend and son in another treatment program, two months ago Joe checked into detox and then into Odyssey House. He is committed to being in recovery and knows this is the best chance he has to save his life and build a better one for his new family.

When he finishes treatment, Joe’s goals are to study for his electrical license and raise his son in a healthy, sober home. He knows reaching these goals depends on his recovery, and is determined to rise to the challenge.

Join us on Thursday, October 26 for the opening of the Odyssey House Art Project’s 9th exhibition, What is Family? to see artwork by Joe and men and women in recovery.