I was born in 1981 to Sarah and Jason Sullivan. I was an only child. Both of my parents worked, so I often felt alone. At school, I was constantly bullied, which only made it worse. My teachers did nothing to stop the bullying, instead of turning a blind eye.

By the time I was thirteen years old I was diagnosed with both anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. My parents didn’t know what to do or how to help. My psychiatrist prescribed Klonopin to help calm my nerves and it worked. A little too well.

What Happened Next

Klonopin did what it was supposed to. It calmed the negative emotions: debilitating fear, pain, and anger. But it also calmed my positive emotions. I couldn’t feel anything. I was numb.

However, whenever I tried to stop, the pain associated with my fear and anger was too much to handle, and I always went right back. And every time I went back, I took a little bit more. And a little bit more. Over the years my body slowly built up a tolerance to Klonopin. Very soon I was taking about five times the recommended dose. It was a miracle I wasn’t dead yet.

My Overdose Scare

The last time I tried to stop taking Klonopin, I almost died. My wife had told me that if I didn’t come clean, she would divorce me. Afraid of never seeing her or my children again, I attempted to stop cold turkey.

However, the throws of withdrawal I soon found myself in was so strong, so jarring, and so painful, I went right back. I took almost twice my usual dose. It almost killed me.

I woke up a few days later in the hospital, my head feeling like it was split in two. My wife had found me after I overdosed and took me in. She waited until I was well enough to tell me she was divorcing me. Our marriage was over just like that.

That was my wake-up call. I had allowed my fear and pain to control me so much that I never realized what it was doing to my family. My wife was both terrified and furious, and my kids had begun to ask her if daddy was dead.

I realized then that I needed to be well for them. I needed to be an example. That was the moment I decided to become clean at last, and I never looked back.

Life After Addiction

My life after addiction hasn’t been easy. It cost me my marriage, but my ex-wife and I are still good friends. As I went through rehab and was able to show her that I was serious, I was soon able to be in my kids’ lives again. I met someone new a few years later, and we got married, and she loves my kids just as much as I do.

I also still struggle with anxiety and PTSD, but I’ve learned about coping mechanisms to deal with those feelings so that I never have to take a pill ever again.

One of my favorite ways of coping is by helping others. I speak at high schools about prevention and bullying issues. I give talks at treatment centers about recovery, encouraging those just coming out of addiction to persevere. I guess, in a way, helping educate others about drugs and prevention is my new drug.