Matthew Newcome had loving parents, a solid middle class upbringing and the financial means to go away to college. But none of that was enough to protect him from becoming addicted to opioid painkillers.
A Percocet prescription after a car accident rapidly spiraled out of control. When his doctor refused to continuing refilling his prescription, he went searching for drugs on the streets, which led him to heroin.
“It was a very dark time in my life. I got strung out really quickly,” Matthew said. “Heroin dictated everything in my life. My whole life was consumed with how I was going to use, and how I was going to keep using. The feeling was, ‘If I don’t have this, I’m not going to make it.’ It’s primal.”
“I went from drinking and smoking a little pot, to fast forward three years I’m an IV heroin addict wondering what in the hell happened.”
At the urging of his parents, he sought treatment, and stayed sober for nearly two years. But after his 21st birthday, he started drinking again – and the road led right back to heroin.
His parents gave him an ultimatum. “My family basically said, ‘You can either go to treatment or we’re done with you.’ I really believed them. I believed this was my one opportunity to get better. I didn’t want to be that way. I just didn’t know how to be any other way.”
The second time, treatment was a success. He returned to school, earned his Bachelor of Science in Psychology and committed his career to helping others recover from addiction. Today, Matthew is a Certified Peer Specialist and Area Recovery Representative at RiverMend Health Center of Atlanta. Matt works closely with intake recovery centers, admissions, clinical staff and healthcare professionals regarding referrals, discharges and post discharge follow-up. He is committed to bringing awareness to addiction in the community and collaborating on the development of workshops for professionals, including professional weekends, events and facility tours.
Sober for six years, he has repaired his relationship with his family. He’s happily married. And he has a rewarding career helping others achieve the success and contentment that he’s found in sobriety.
“If you had told me five years ago, this is what your recovery is going to look like…You’re going to be a manager. You’re going to have a wife who loves you. You’re going to have sober friends who call you and check up on you. You’re going to have your family in your life. You’re going to have tools to deal with the highs and lows of life. There was no way I could fathom that. All I knew was drug addiction.”
“When you get sober, it’s about learning how to live again. My goal is to help other people learn that too.”