The one thing a recovering drug addict says you need to know
Daniel Regan knows addiction well.
Daniel had been raised in a New Jersey household where he was taught to fear the dangerous lure of drugs. Through his young childhood, he couldn't imagine addiction — he couldn't even imagine casually smoking pot. He was convinced that if he ever tried marijuana, he'd have a stroke and die, Daniel told New Jersey 101.5's Bill Spadea Wednesday morning.
But when a friend introduced him to pot — and nothing bad seemed to happen — a 12-year-old Daniel's entire worldview changed. How could this be dangerous? How could anything he grew up believing be true? Drugs do what they're meant to, Daniel said — they make you feel good and forget everything else.
Daniel began a tragic path. Heroin. Cocaine. Alcohol. Prescription drugs. He was in and out of rehab seven times. He watched dozens of friends die. Living — barely living — in California, he'd been left in the street during ODs by friends afraid of attracting trouble. And he was homeless, living in abandoned hotels.
But there's one thing Daniel Regan says everyone needs to know about addiction:
There's hope, Daniel said. For those willing to do the work, for those willing to reach out, there's always hope.
That's where organizations like CFC Loud N Clear of Farmingdale come in. CFC — which Daniel founded with his mother, Lynn Regan, months after she kicked in the door of the abandoned hotel, survived Daniel's violent outburst and forced him into treatment — shares the technique that finally got Daniel sober. It teaches recovering addicts to live a life they can enjoy — one where socialization doesn't depend on any substances, including alcohol.
On Spadea's show Wednesday, several callers expressed frustration with a healthcare and recovery system they said falls short. Eddie in Nutley spent years trying to help his heroin-addicted son — but each time Eddie's son went through a rehab program, he moved right back to a life of substance abuse.
For them, an alternative treatment program finally made the difference:
His message, like the Regans': Never give up. Find a way.
Linda from Howell, trying to help her own son — who'd moved on from legal painkillers to heroin — said she's been through "seven years of hell." She struggled with what she said were the inadequacies of treatment and drug court in New Jersey as well. "If he didn't want to stay there, they let him go," she said:
Linda isn't alone in that experience, Linda and Daniel told her. But again, there's hope. CFC provides expertise in navigating addiction treatment services. And in its core mission, it gives addicts somewhere to go after getting clean — somewhere to find friends, and a family.
CFC is one of several New Jersey-based programs that can provide support services to those looking to overcome addiction. Among them:
CFC Loud N Clear
CFC in Farmlingdale provides after-care — focusing on providing those in recovery with activities and a loving community. It also provides resources focused on prevention, recovery, intervention and family support. CFC was founded by recovering heroin addict Daniel Regan and his mother, Lynn, who describes finding her son living "as an animal" in a crack den before they finally worked out a plan together to keep him clean.
NJ Connect for Recovery
A free, confidential call line for opiate addiction and those dealing with the effects in a loved one. Calls are answered live daily, noon to 8 p.m. Messages left during off hours will be returned the next day. It's made possible by Mental Health Association in New Jersey. The connection to certified counselors and peer specialists also can be made by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This one-stop website offers New Jerseyans resources on how to identify the signs that an individual is at risk of addiction or is hiding a drug problem; and how to find and take advantage of addiction treatment. There's also a list of recovery and self help centers across the state.
The grassroots organization was founded in 1998 by four moms, three of whom lost their sons to drugs. The group based in Marlton aims to access quality, affordable, comprehensive treatment services for anyone seeking recovery.
New Jersey Nar-Anon Family Groups
Hotline: 877-424-4491 or 800-238-2333
The only requirement to be a member is that there is a problem of drugs or addiction in a relative or friend. Nar-Anon and N.J. Nar-Anon Family Groups are not affiliated with any other organizations. Meetings are held in NJ seven days a week, at locations across the state.
HOPE Sheds Light
This Toms River-based foundation to put a spotlight on addiction, focusing on heroin, opiate and prescription drug education. The goal is to create awareness and be a gateway to agencies that provide support, including rehab facilities, counseling services and support groups. HOPE Sheds Light was started after the Rosetto family lost their son Marc to substance abuse and heroin in 2012.
This New Jersey drug alcohol addiction treatment center helps more than 3,000 people every year. The non-profit organization has over 40 years of experience, with locations in Passaic, Essex, Bergen and Hunterdon counties.
Ocean County Prosecutor's Office
Ocean County was the first in the state to adopt the Law Enforcement Narcan Program and is spearheading a pilot program to provide further services to those rescued with the antidote. The county also has shared tips for planning an intervention to help a a loved one in-need.
Reporting by Erin Vogt was used in this post.