My name's Patrick, I'm 41 years old and I'm a person living in sustained recovery. Eight years ago, I decided to take my life back. So I live in LeRoy, you know spent most of my life living outside the box in rural areas. I'm really, really proud of to say that I'm in recovery and I don't hide it, I'm not ashamed because I'm in recovery, and I, you know, I tell it loud and I tell it proud.
Like, yeah, I used a lot of drugs in my life but I'm living proof that your life can change. I'm living proof that there's life after addiction. Just remember, we're human, we have feelings. We're not stone cold junkies as I believe a term I've heard before.
We're people, we have families, we're brothers, we're husbands, we're sisters, we're mothers, we're cousins, we're the people who serve your coffee. You know, we're the people who fix your car. We're not just the drug we ingest. I overdosed 44 times, 22 times I was dead, and brought back by NARCAN, and every time it was an emergency room visit, you know, the ambulance wasn't always called, but you know when it was, the emergency room was where I would go and it always led to dread.
I dreaded going to the emergency room. You feel the eyes on you. You know, my dad used to say, "The eyes are the windows to to your soul and you can see what people think about you just by how they look at you." And that was one of my biggest fears was I would wake up from the overdose and I knew immediately that I would have to just face the ridicule or the scrutiny, or just, you know, people looking at you like you're trash.
I got a piece of glass in my eye and I had to go to the emergency room and the doctor was just absolutely amazing. She used my full name and that really, really, that really resonated with me. 'Cause you can, you just feel it when somebody's looking you in the eye and they're using your name and they have compassion in their voice, and their eyes show the compassion, and their face shows it, you know it, you feel it. And it just kind of put me at ease and it was almost instantaneous, you know, as soon as she came in, it was one of them things, where okay this isn't gonna be one of those times where I have to leave out of here without getting the care I need.
Yeah, that's definitely, I'll remember that for the rest of my life. (no audio)
Patrick, a construction worker who is 8 years in recovery, was highly stigmatized in the ED until a welcoming encounter with an ED provider who showed genuine interest in him. “When somebody is looking you in the eye and they have compassion in their voice and their eyes show compassion . . . you know it, you feel it,” he says.