HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KSNW) – The growing trend of overdoses from the drug fentanyl is alarming many across the country.
For Wichitan Justin McPhillips, he started his journey with drugs as a young teen.
“It was like eighth-grade year or beginning of high school,” said McPhillips. “It wasn’t like full-blown addiction or anything, but I was definitely dabbling.”
Dabbling eventually turned into a fentanyl addiction.
“I knew what it was. It was a lot cheaper than all the other painkillers, a lot more available. You can do a lot less and get a lot more,” he said.
After years of addiction and pushes from loved ones to get clean, McPhillips decided to do it for himself.
“I just wanted more out of life, like I said earlier, I was just sick and tired of being sick and tired,” he said. “I wanted to not be a statistic.”
McPhillips is now 23 years old and two years sober.
“I feel like I weigh 100 pounds lighter, even though I’ve gained 100 pounds since then,” he said.
Although he is removed from his addiction, McPhillips still sees the hold fentanyl has taken on the community.
“I remember being in high school, not hearing anything about it, and then almost as soon as I graduated, it was like you couldn’t hear enough about it,” he said. “It was just so often and so rapid and so saturated, to the point where once a week, once every month, I would just hear about somebody either overdosing or passing away.”
McPhillips’ new passion is to help others in their fight with addiction.
“Whether they are teenagers, whether they are 50 years old, it doesn’t matter because addiction doesn’t come in one specific size or age,” he said.
McPhillips is already making a difference. He teaches a substance abuse program at the Hutchinson Correctional Facility.
“You get to see people transform their lives, and you get to do a lot of things that you never thought you could do because whenever you’re in that like mindset, nothing matters. I don’t really have a reason, I guess. It’s amazing to finally have that reason,” he said.
If you are a loved one is battling an addiction, here is how you can find help.