I remember it like it was yesterday. The squeaking of sneakers on the court. The ball bouncing off the rim. And a crack of pain.
It was the first day of basketball practice my junior year of college when my teammate and I went up for a rebound and came down in a tangled mess. I felt an indescribable pain shoot through my body. And next thing I knew, I was in the backseat of my trainer’s car, rushing to the hospital.
We hobbled through the sliding doors, and the nurses immediately got out their scissors to cut my swollen foot free. They took X-rays and MRIs, and after what seemed like several hours, I left with a walking boot and a diagnosis of a severe high-ankle sprain.
It took me eight weeks of physical therapy to finally get on the court again. But the pain kept pushing me to take a seat on the bench. So, I went back to the doctors and was prescribed opioids to help with the pain.
As a small-town guy who was very anti-drugs and anti-smoking, I wasn’t aware of the effects of opioid use. So when I took the first dose, I was surprised at how they made me feel. I thought, "Whoa. What is this?" And when I noticed the pain was gone, I was excited to get back on the court.
The more opioids I took to fight the pain, the more my tolerance grew. It got to the point where I wanted opioids even when I wasn’t in pain. And when I didn’t have them in my possession, they were all I could think about. I was completely consumed. I was addicted.
Was the time on the court worth years of opioid addiction? No. But at the time, I didn’t expect this to happen. I used to think that people like me aren’t the "type" to become addicted to opioids. I was wrong.
Opioid addiction doesn’t care what you look like, how much money you make or where you’re from. It can affect anyone, anywhere, anytime.
If I’d known more about opioid addiction in the first place, things might have been different for me. I look back now and realize how much I’ve learned on my recovery journey. To hear more about my story watch my video: "Ben’s Story: Fighting Opioid Addiction."
If you’re struggling with opioid addiction or caring for someone who is, please reach out to a healthcare professional to learn more about opioid addiction and all treatment options. There is help out there. So stay curious. Be strong. And keep changing the conversation about opioid addiction.