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From Prescription Drug Addiction to Freedom

Michael Kusarawana Jason Russell

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  • November 1, 2019
    3:15 PM
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Hi friends our desire is to share with you the transformed lives of our guests I hope is that these experiences will inspire you to have a closer walk with God If you enjoy this episode please leave a review or share with your friends here is a show. There was a time. When I would wake up brush my teeth look up and see the guy in the mirror and I hated him I didn't I didn't want him I didn't want to be my life if he was dead everything. And that was that was looking back now. I believe that my wife and my children and God are the only people that got me alive. I am Michael Carona and you're listening to why I am here to show that show incredible stories of our guests and how they conspired to have it was a what we. Wanted a show I sit down with Jason Russell Now Jason has an incredible story Jason was addicted to pain medication which led him to stealing this medication in the ambulances that he worked as a paramedic but this is not the end of the story Jason. Got arrested and he went to jail while he was in jail he found God by reading his Bible after he served his term he went back to be employed as a paramedic let alone to get his position as a supervisor quite incredible right full circle with God and God can do the same thing in your life. I was born and raised in Berrien Springs I was raised in the administration as a child I was brought up we came to church every week as I got older I joined the Pathfinder club which is a youth group went to our local admin a school that was affiliated with the church graduated from there started in the academy I didn't finish it he kept me I transferred over to public school I think that may have been part of where I kind of started to lose focus as I got into my more teenage years I started to kind of steer away from the church sort of that rebellion face and it didn't seem as important to me because the circle that I kept the friends that I kept I'm not that they're bad people but it just wasn't the Christ centered focus that I had been born with or raised with so I graduated from public high school so I joined a fire department I did that for a few years when I joined the fire department one of the things that I found very interesting was I wanted to be an e.m.t. did see medical technician and that sort of experience that fascinated me so I took an e.m.t. class and kind of got started down that path I was hired by one of our local ambulance services and started off in a wheelchair division which is kind of like non-emergency transport at that time they didn't hire e.m.t. full time to run ambulance calls they were all paramedic that changed a few years later and they started hiring the Ts so I began working on the ambulance did you have these fees in off 5 being an e.m.t. when you're growing up oh it's something that you know I may I rely I really didn't that came later in life growing up I wanted to be of all things an aircraft mechanic that was kind of what I enjoyed and what I wanted to do I can't tell you why but my brother when he got me into the fire department and I kind of followed in his footsteps that was that was his role he's all about the fire and emergency services and I kind of looked up to him at that time and and I wanted to do that so so it's your brother who gave you this inspiration to go and this I mean our son Yeah that was just kind of everything he did seemed very cool it was very. It was inspiring to me and I wanted that life it was it was fascinating you know the lights and the sirens and the you know the high intensity that was there was something that was unaided me so we were actually on the fire department together and he is the one who got me hired into the ambulance service kind of got my name in the door and got me interviews and things like that song so now you're in the fire department and I guess you were you enjoying it by this time and was it all you expected the fire the excitement you know when you're growing up you don't kind of have the actual picture of Ward he just thinking all when I grow up when I get a chance I want to do this in life was it as exciting as you you saw it in your brother when you're actually working at the fire it was it was the fire department is very interesting I mean it's it's a great group of people it's a family and the the camaraderie that you see in the excitement and you the the experiences that you have with each other you tend to just grow extremely close to each other because that's not something that everybody understands much like in an emergency services with being a medic and things like that there are experiences that you'll go through with families that the general population just doesn't understand because even seen it it's not all what you see on television it's there's a very real dynamic to it now you know and and this job and what happens next so I was I started off as I mentioned in there wheelchair to work my way up to road personnel Fast forward a few years I actually became a disparate supervisor where I worked you know monitoring people doing. Assignments and schedules and things of that nature but eventually that transition to an opportunity to be a supervisor on the street after I got my medical license so I was a field supervisor I did that I had a crew of 12 folks and that was probably my favorite job I absolutely loved that that position it was just. Fascinating to me there's a lot of stress with that that comes with it there but there is you really build relationships and you build friendships with the people that you're working with because again of the experiences that you share together and seeing each other all the time typically our shifts are 24 hours so you're away from home and this kind of becomes a 2nd family to you these are the people that you see and you're with college time most of the time and if you build that relationship that camaraderie and working together absolutely in what ways is it stressful Was it stressful in that time one of the biggest stressors is purely just the hours you know the 24 hours again away from home while it has its good aspects the negative of that it can be very taking on your family life especially if you have small children it's hard for them to understand when you're not home you know it's you don't have that 85 you know you get up you take the kids to school you pick them up you bring them home that's you're completely gone and there's there's those days where you're just so busy that you don't even have a chance maybe to call home just to check in and say hey I love you guys thinking about you you just that takes a toll on while really did that busy that you cannot even take a call there are there are those moments when paramedics can I mean at those services much much like police there's just those days where things are so busy there's so many requests for service you just don't have an opportunity maybe to even grab a bite to eat or to sit down and take a moment to catch your breath and it's one after the other and it it can take a toll. Now you know the few would suffice there it's busy it's sometimes stressful but these relationships with your coworkers and what then happens next so basically I kind of let stress get the better of me to get to where. Kind of this story begins is there is there are certain things that really really get to you and they you know they just they keep you awake at night. And how you deal with that there are constructive ways and they're not constructive ways I sort of took a non-constructive path I I was a drinker as I mentioned earlier I kind of steered away from the church and I got into alcohol and and things like that and I used to drink quite a bit off to not I believe I was functional like I didn't miss work and things like that but I like to party and I like to go out and go with my friends and kind of live that life and in my mind it was Ok because of all that I dealt with this was my escape was this help to me. De stress so I was injured in a softball game but that what I ended up doing I dislocated my shoulder and was put on pain medications just which is a fairly typical occurrence for that type of injury that pain medication obviously took my pain away but it also. Gave me this feeling of euphoria Blake this is this is great this is how I want to feel all the time because I don't hurt things don't bother me I I can deal with this I pop a pill I take a nap everything's Ok So eventually what happens is you're given a script for medication all doctors will typically give you for right long time right and that runs out well when it runs out and you crave that feeling well you want it back so it sort of started this. Having to convince people that well I'm not Ok I still hurt I have injuries but I'm workin so it's Ok So hey man I know you have a scrip for medication can I get a couple pills and you didn't have pain at all but you just needed that feeling that that made. It absolutely reached a point where it wasn't about the pain any longer how craving that feeling. So it was just craving was he doing anything to your mind away by it helped you with your stress or anything or it was just the crave at the moment I would tell you absolutely this was mixing everything looking back on it now it was sending me down a spiral that was looking to nowhere absolutely absolutely and now you have these craving and you're trying to convince people and that used to have the pain or used to need the medication and then what happened so I would talk to different people that I worked with and even family members you know hey I know you have this medication you were given for whatever maybe you didn't use it can I have it because my my shoulders really bothered me or today my knee hurts and. I was very good at convincing people that it was it was a. Big deal it was it was just you know I just needed for a little bit because I had this multitude of people that I could talk to so if I talked to a bunch of different people about it nobody really become suspicious at least not that I was aware of because if I get 2 or 3 from this guy in 2 or 3 from this fellow a couple from this young lady then you know this is Ok because instead of constantly being at the same person and you are if you had supervisor then trusted you as well and he knew they didn't suspect anything they did not and that that is one of the most heart wrenching things for me is the betrayal of trust that I did to those that looked up to time as I mentioned these are these are friends these are people that I truly care about right and when this was going on to look at them and know I knew that I was lying they may or may not have known but I knew that I was and that's very difficult to deal with which just potentiating the problem it made it worse because now the people that that I should have been the most accountable to I have to look at them and I'm lying to them and it's very difficult so. Now I have even more stress Arianna and more if I need it more because now my problem is even bigger So yeah he's more like a dab or probably exactly a way used to used to have to go to off what you doing and to go to off the people that you're lying to absolutely and all the time knowing exactly what I'm doing and knowing that this is wrong but not having the ability to stop not having the ability to say Ok I can just be done with this and so now you are getting all of this and this medication from these people how long did it go for what happened it was probably I would guess maybe about a year that that type of scenario was playing out where I was going to different people and doing these types of different things and then drinking and that was my advice that was my way to deal so after a while I've exhausted all of my resources and there's now nobody I can out so I can talk to because if I talk too much to a person they're going to get suspicious so I have to maintain this image that everything is Ok. So I ran out of the ability to get the pills to get the medications that way so one night I'm I'm at work and for anybody who's ever dealt with addiction they'll understand what I mean by withdrawal and you have just that that total. Almost like the flu you just you can you just achy craving you you feel miserable and you know what you need you know what what it is but I don't have it and I'm thinking to myself because on every ambulance there's narcotics jail as a means of securing our products for patients that are injured corrections we're in the right things like that so I'm sitting at the station and I know that the very thing that can fix this miserable feeling of dealing with is 1015 feet away. So the temp. Patient was just overwhelming but. The commitment to see to be to do the right thing was so I went to the ambulance and I remember very vividly that 1st time where I took the drugs from from the ambulance and you know I loaded the syringe and I put the needle in my arm and. And it fixed I say Fix You know in quotes but right there was an immediate resolution to my yard satisfied that crazy in bed here happening and it wasn't making the problem you know that was that was the the step that put me over the edge that just. Like I knew in my mind at that moment that I no longer had any control but I had to stay I had to convince people I had it was Ok to me even though I was out of control I knew that I could I can handle this I can I can keep it a secret I can get help I just need a couple more days and I can stop and then it won't be an issue so it got to the point where I would take the medications use them and then put empty vials were put put water back in the vials and put them back in the ambulances because that was the way that nobody was going to find some. So now not only am I taking it for myself I'm not compromising a patient in the future who may need to be present when or when one of my coworkers has been is giving pain medication to a patient or not because I've taken it and replaced it with what isn't going to work. So now I'm hurting more people yeah and you know it's just getting bigger and the guilt with that I can't even I can't describe that it if I had to try it would just this amazing pressure was just this huge burden but not knowing how to stop it because now what do I do how do I how do I say how do I fix this yes it's like becoming like a fact one problem is leading to another day and losing time and then bleeds into and now the end is coming you know exactly so at one point I started to actually rather than replace the medications I would just they they came in little bags you know they were sealed bag so I would just take the whole bag and then I could dispose of it and there was an empty vials and things like that so nobody would know it was just well it was a missing bag somebody didn't stock it it you know it's a supply problem so that this is easy so again now I'm doing something that potentially can blame. My coworkers for that well if they left the truck and it didn't have this equipment and it will that's on them because they're supposed to make sure it's in their right they're doing their job and I'm undermining everybody and I'm doing this as their supervisor and as their friend again just as you mention the ripple effect of that it's just getting worse and worse and worse but I can't stop it I don't know how to stop it at this point so they started to as bag started to disappear and the supply because there's only a limited amount of bags in the system and they're all numbered well as they start to disappear of course people start asking questions well hey what's going on this isn't one bag miss This is 2356 something is happy I'm missing all the time and if he just says so once they say oh that was a mistake or something happened and I I would do like I wouldn't always take from the same truck I would switch trucks I would because then if I'm taken from all these different trucks it doesn't point the finger back at me because there's all these people now they're involved so everybody will suspect so now again we're involving a much greater group of people right there because everybody is now looking at each other and nobody trusts anybody and hey who's doing this because it's a family and people want to know something is going on there we have to find out what it is so people are asking questions and there's meetings in news management meetings about hey what are we going to do to track this down so I am as a supervisor I'm sitting in the management meeting listening to the plan of how they're going to try to catch the person who's doing this and you know I know you said it all I have to do is look in a mirror and I can tell you exactly who's doing it and that night there was a time. When I would wake up. Brush my teeth look up and see the guy in the mirror and I hated it I didn't I didn't want him I didn't want to be my life if he was dead everything would be fine and that was that was looking back now. I believe that my life and my children and God are the only people that kept me alive because there was a time where I seriously contemplated suicide I. I didn't want that was the only solution that I could see that was the only way out of this because if I came forward all of these people that I've know. Kind of implicated in this are going to be mad all of these friends that I've I've known for years are going to turn on me where do I do what or what So to me the easy out is well. I'll beat the bullet you know if that fixes it I couldn't ever I never took an action on that it was always just an ideology. And I think because of the children because of my wife at that time having the background that I had I knew that God was there I've always believed in God even at the worst moments. But I felt that he would understand if that's what he came to because he wouldn't have let me get this far. If it wasn't Ok so now I'm also blaming God for letting this happen for the actions that you are doing right and yet thinking that if he didn't want me to do this you should have come through it and stopped it Exum how because everybody was to blame except me it wasn't my fault because of a 1000 reasons whatever it was I could always justified to me much like I justified that I wasn't an addict I wasn't a junkie because I was using clean needles I was taken pharmacy grade medications so I'm not I'm not like that guy in the street corner right it's not right right that's taking math or cocaine or something debt that's I'm doing the same thing everything is identical I'm just doing it in my bathroom as opposed to on the street corner so it's it's absolutely no different but in my mind I justified it because well I'm I'm a trained professional I know what I'm doing right right this is this is just my way of dealing with stress so it's Ok Did you ever felt like I don't really want to do what's right but I cannot I did I did I wanted to stop I wanted I wanted it to just go away on a but I had no idea. I knew I couldn't say anything I knew I couldn't ask for help because the moment that I did well now everybody's going to know exactly what's been going on they're going to know who it is right so if I come forward and say hey I have this problem oh Ok well now we know and I didn't feel at that time that I was going to get support that it was going to be. Punitive instead and I I I didn't want that nobody wants that so I did what I could to avoid that now they're holding meetings and to try and find out what's happening what takes place next all of these are going on and these these conversations are being had and people are pointing fingers and things so one day I'm at work I also worked part time for a another physician in the area as a medic it was in a doctor's office and I'm at work one day and I get a call from my operations manager at the time and he says hey we might have a break there's we got a guy on camera coming in to the station taken what looks to be a drug bag out of one of the men's As I'm walking out the back door so he tells me this I know it's me all right because I everything he tells me is exactly what I have done you know the night before so I mean panic mode I don't I don't know what you know how do I how do I stop this how do I get out of this after work I go home and I sit down and I talk to my wife. And I tell her everything it just all comes out she will tell you to this day she had no clue of the drug use she will tell you that I would come home I would sleep all day I would yell at her I would yell at the kids but she just attributed that to too many being our having too many things going on so yet telling her how many years the weight of information that I had basically at that time it was honey this is where it started this is what I've been doing because she was aware that people were that somebody was taking the medicines from the ambulances because I had talked about it because that was a way for me to kind of kind of let it off because can you believe this is going on and kind of see and gauge her reaction she just didn't have any clue that it was me so I'm now lying to the most important person in my life that has been the most supportive who's who's done everything she could and I am put her in an impossible position so now when I tell her this what I expect is her to be and what I expect is her to I'm taking the kids and I'm leaving there's no way I'm dealing with this right she was anything but she said it doesn't matter whatever happens happens we're going to get through this the kids and I love you she never once wavered in anything while she had every reason to do so and never even once. The children at the time my said My youngest son was for my middle son was 8 my daughter was 12 my daughter has autism so she doesn't really kind of understand she didn't know anything and my youngest son Ethan being 4 didn't understand that concept at all but my my middle son Dylan at 8 he knew that daddy was. That there were these things he understood daddy being angry so if I would yell at him that that hurt you know I didn't have the relationship that I wanted with my kids the crazy thing about it is I didn't recognize that I didn't have it because we were going out and playing and I would come home and it was always it was Ok for me to come home and crash on the couch because I was tired I had worked I had done this I had done that and I was missing so many opportunities with with my children when they were young and what we could have been doing and one of the most terrible moments for me when this whole scenario started to unravel when my house of cards fell. When I came home well let me back up just a little bit the night I told I told my wife and I mentioned she we're going to get through this we're going to do this I'm not leaving so after that we went and we told my parents we live very close my parents and we were very close to them as well my mom has it as an extremely religious person that is that is the focus of my upbringing she has always been that she's very very church oriented very centered on Christ and she's kind of always been our pillar She's our rock we look at always give support absolutely absolutely even saying I'm praying for your absolute Yeah even when I was I was a tough kid I was a tough kid in my teenage years growing up but she never I mean we had we had our yell and she would tell you we've gone toe to toe but she's she never wavered my father either my father is an extremely hard worker a wonderful man I am not that kid who grew up and had a terrible childhood and didn't have all the opportunities I had every opportunity that I should have had and probably more I had I had a wonderful upbringing I had I had tremendous parents I had wonderful siblings I. I can look back I mean sure there were things that I wanted to do but not every kid gets to do everything you want to do right that's just kind of life yeah so but there is no oh this happened so I'm this horrible person I mean I didn't I I truly had a wonderful childhood a wonderful upbringing and just made stupid decisions as I got older and felt well I don't need this and I don't need the church and I don't I don't need to follow these rules because I can I'm my own person I can I can kind of when I exploit different world Absolutely yeah I'm like many people who are involved in many different situations cases of drugs they blame the bringing in they blame somebody who didn't do something right that might be true but in the case of Jason he missed the fact that he had a good bringing. All the things that he did bad he just wanted to experiment but when we come back we're going to find out more on how Jason was able to tell he's employers that it was he was taking the drugs. This program is sponsored by village 7th Day Adventist Church if you would like to learn more about the church please visit you and s.g. and a large of are you wondering how you can spend the financial blessings God has given you joining the lives church as we are here with the El Salvadorian moons ago the 1st album the current in El Salvador if you would like to learn more about this opportunity please visit village as you know are just so I wouldn't hold my folks and we sat down and we had a meeting and we prayed about it and I knew that I had to come forward that I had I had to get this in the open and get ahead of it because if they had it if they knew that it was on on tape and it was eventually going to come out and I couldn't handle. I wanted to I wanted to come forward and say look this is me rather than them show up at my house in front of my kids and arrest me and drag me out all right so the 1st person outside of my family that I contacted was my medical control director who is an individual who kind of oversees the ambulances in the area and they're in charge of writing policy and signing off and making sure that I'm accountable to the skills that I know that I should have kind of the big boss so to speak Right right. That was a very difficult decision for me to have as well or I'm sorry difficult conversation to have because this was a man who I have literally looked into my into his eyes and be trade probably 50 to 100 times by now over we've had this conversation we've talked about it at one point I was the team leader for the E.M.'s tactical team and we work side by side with him so we had been on all of these operations and we had been very close and we're friends and now I have to tell this man that all of these things have been going on is me and I've been doing it right for me and so I called him up and I said. I need to talk to you Ok Ok I said nah not really but we need to have a conversation he said Ok I'll be there where we meet and so we met in a parking lot kind of in between our homes and I can remember my Lisa my wife drove me up there were sitting in the car and I said Honey I don't know where this is going I don't know what's going to happen but this has to happen. And she said you're going to be Ok so I got out a car and I got in his car and I sat down and I couldn't even look at him and I said Doc all the missing drugs all the things that are going on you can stop look at what you mean I said it's me. And he was just kind of stunned right and he and he said Are you really and I said yes it's me I I've been doing it for for this and he said one of the things that to this day now all a little over 4 years later. Has stuck with me and he and he looked at me and he put his hand on my shoulder and he said Jason this is going to be tough. But we're going to get you through it we're going to get you some help because you need help before we do anything else this is amazing it looks like everyone whom you tell is giving you support instead of rejecting you absolutely I fully fully anticipated this man to say get out of my car or a you'll hear from the cops and I would and it was anything but and we and we had a conversation and we talked about it for a few moments and he told me he said you know that I have to go to the police because the position that he's in I mean he has to there's there's there's just no option and I said I know and he says but we have to get you help that's what's most important and that to me said despite everything I've done this person is still my friend. And that was the love of Christ in him because a man that was what I needed and I knew then that no matter how difficult this next part of the road was going to be that there were people that were going to stand by me yeah so from there we went and we talked to my operations manager and my director of the service they were a little less supportive of the one my operations manager when I went to his house and I told him and the doctor went with me and he he stood by my side as we did this it together so here is again his support for me because he knew these conversations were tough right but he was now involved and I told him I told my operations manager what what had happened what I've been doing and he looked at me and he said well we kind of make sense because you've you've kind of been a jerk lately so Ok And this is this is somebody who I grew up on or at the company he had always been my boss and in one facet or another from my very early days at wheelchair all the way up to 2 when I was a cursive supervisor he was my boss and he was my friend I mean his grandkids and my kids played baseball together and we've known each other we've been fishing together we you know we spent some time. And at the moment it was well how dare you say that to me but of all the things that he should have said to me and that was Ok Because I mean that's that's a that's a that's an obvious you know you kind of x. back to that and I did yeah I did so I went and the next step was to talk to my director at the time my director was also my lieutenant I was I worked as a reserve police officer. Department and he was my lieutenant. And when I told him what had happened he he looked at me and he said well you're not going to be a cop anymore and your on unpaid suspension until we figure everything out and that was our conversation I said Ok and I turned and left. So from there I went and I had some very close friends one of which was my partner one of which was another medic that I had worked with and was also on the tactical team with me and then a dispatch friend of mine that we had been very close those 3 people so I called them and I said Hey guys I need to talk to you we need to have a conversation. So we met up and I told him and I said look this is me this is this is what I've been doing this is I don't know what's going to happen and my partner at the time and him probably more than anybody else in the company had a right to be angry because it's going to now look like like a lot of people would ask how could all this be going on and you sitting right beside not know so are they going to blame him are they going to look were you covering for him were you a part of this and he wasn't in any way shape or form but the potential for him to somehow get involved sucked and yet it was very I mean very real and that again that be trail to the people closest. It's it was it was difficult so my conversations were basically I'm sorry I can't tell you why and I don't know how to fix it I just want to say I'm sorry. Those conversations were very very difficult for me. But going home that night and trying to fall asleep knowing that there were still people who said I still love you you're Ok you're an idiot but we're going to get you through it. Probably saved my life I did it not probably did it absolutely safe because I looking back now I firmly believe if I had been met with rejection and all of those points that I would have I would have ended I really believe that so that support was key to you absolutely that we don't support what you did right but we love you as a person and love the man and hate the action Yes absolutely and that is I believe truly that was Christ working in their hearts to soften him and to say. This is still your friend this is still Jason this is not he's done this horrible thing but he's still a good person and you can still support him and love him as your friend which is what we should all do I mean that's I didn't deserve any of that yet all of these people came forward to give me that it was that was an amazing lesson because being in my mind everybody was going to hate me everybody was going to turn on me I would have nothing and it was anything but that I went through a phase as this scenario kind of played out where and even my partner that I mentioned and I kind of turned on him because as the investigation now kind of picked up speed because now they had a person to go after well then of course they start talking to my partner and they're talking to these other people hey what did you know what did this and that and those conversations get had well so now I'm blaming people because I went through this phase of even though I know it's me and even though I've come forward and said It's me somehow it's still justified and it shouldn't be this bad like why are they going to come why do they want to lock me up why do they why do they want to put me in jail I don't I don't understand that even though I know it and it's very difficult to explain because I know exactly why I'm not I'm not dumb I have right or absolutely there needs to be punishment for what has happened I deserve that punishment probably more but I'm you know my me if I do you can you get to me so the next day. Lisa My wife called an old family friend of ours who had struggled with alcohol for some time and we didn't know like rehab was kind of a. It was just this thing that other people did you know that people who can't handle themselves go through you know I thought that was not something I need you know like I very much did I'm still in this denial phase you know so she calls. And says hey this is what Jason's going through I don't know what to do we need help bring him over so we go to his house he gets on the phone with a rehab facility that he was familiar with and when you do a rehab such as that you have to go you can't be you you can't be forced you have to sign you have to walk in you have to voluntarily come in why do you need that but I did but I haven't accepted that idea and Randy looks at me dead right he says Jason you're going you need to tell him you're going you have to go you know you do I know you do everybody who loves you know you do you have to the only person who doesn't think they have been need to do it is you right yeah right so I get on the phone with them and I and I kind of tell them you know they ask you that you know your name and this kind of thing and that and and what your problem is and and white where you're struggling and then they say Ok are you willing to come are you willing to walk in on your own and I'm join us and I said yeah and it's Ok be here tomorrow so so there he is going on whilst the investigations are going on and this is I went on June 15th. Of 2015 was kind of my. It's another birthday for me that was the last day I used any alcohol any any narcotics any anything that wasn't just like an over the counter talent I've been completely 100 percent sober since June 15th of 25th. I mean in fact the only the only alcohol I've even been near is mouthwash so I'm Ok. So. I and then on the 17th of June and so 2 days later I checked into rehab in Brighton Michigan and my wife and my sister and my friend Randy drove me up there and he said whatever it takes you're going. They're still giving you that how did you sense up what they even went as far as Rehab is not cheap rehab is is quite costly Yeah and they even went as far as to say whatever that is we're going to pay for we'll figure it out later but you're going because you need one because you can't get through this without it so I did and I went in and checked in the toughest moment I think for me is we made those plans on the 16th the day after I had come forward to the doctor and everybody so I'm going the next morning that night I'm at home and at the time it was my 3 children we also had a couple nephews that were living with us they had been through some struggles in life and it kind of brought everybody together and to talk to him and say look this is what's going on my nephews at the time I want to say we're 14 and 16 so they were very much when I explained to them what had happened they were very much aware which is a difficult conversation to have with kids who are kind of starting down that path of their own and you've been telling them all this time hey this is wrong you shouldn't live like this Well now I have to stand in front of and say all those things I've been telling you the idea I'm guilty of I'm So how what kind of role model is that yeah it's kind of difficult where I've put myself up to be this amazing person to take care of them and lead them to the right way all this time I've been I've been lying to everyone around me and hiding from them as well so that was tough but I think the absolute toughest moment that I had and what was an absolute slap in the face and and just such a huge dose of reality was my son Dylan. As I mentioned he was 8 at the time and I sat him down and I said Dylan daddy sick and daddy's going to go to the hospital because I didn't the concept of rehab introduction and things like that wouldn't make the way he would but he would understand sick in hospital and I told him that and I said and when I get home dad he's going to be home because I'm not going to I'm not going to work at. I'm not going to work as a policeman and I'm not going to be a medic I don't know what's going to happen and Dillon looked at me and he gave me a hug and said you know what Dad It's Ok because you'll have me and we'll have more time together and that was such a dose of reality in that up until that moment I had never seen or understood that Dylan's perception of this was just that daddy was never around that I had become so focused on work and getting my next high that I was completely leaving my family behind me and not being the father that I needed to be and I still struggle with that today because of all those missed years and all that opportunity where I should have been this amazing dad and just helping him and teaching him and here is this lesson now in hey even because when you're a dad and your kid is a you're still a hero and you know they still love you have you know that you're everything that they absolutely will now dad has to sit in front of you and say I'm this horrible person based on these actions and he didn't that that was he just he knew he missed dad and he wanted to head home now this is cool because Dad I'm going to back going to be so you have also all the time absolutely So the next morning we get up and we drive up there and you're sitting of course it's kind of like a doctor's office you come in and yet you know this paperwork and things and you fill out right. It's a 2 week program and you have the 1st couple days if you're there you're in this big large open room with a bunch of beds separated by curtains and you just lay in bed it's like a detox and they want to make sure that you're physically healthy to be able to do this. You get you you can buy a little phone cards to call home but what are you going to call home about what are you going to talk about what he I mean it's not like Hey the game is great you know it's it's how do you have a conversation how do you start with that so you're sitting in bed with with all of these other people around you and you're trying to tell yourself and I'm not like all these other people. And then you go and you see yourself in the mirror and you know you're exactly like oh if you're no better you're probably worse and you know it's just you had no reason to be this way you had every opportunity to not have this life all right and you didn't take advantage of the guilt is just piling on you know and rehab is basically 2 weeks of teaching you a different mindset of you're broken you can't you can't think like this you can't do this this is not Ok is there is no justification for you you've made stupid decisions you're completely 100 percent responsible for them and now you need to own it and they kind of they teach you that in 82 ways to cope with that and you teach you. Having support from people that you know and I'm sure anyone listening most folks would understand response or you know that they want you to have a sponsor somebody that if you have any issues whatsoever any any inkling any desire you call the person up and kind of looking through the right person and I'm going to tell you No I don't know in fact I would say that I would recommend this to everybody but even when I got out of rehab 2 weeks later I didn't call a sponsor. In the official sense of I have a person who I am accountable to and I and I call every day at certain times what I had was my family what I had was friends what I had was my church family my 1st coming back into church after all of this happen because by now of course you know it's been in the paper and people have seen and the the rumors abound and there are those who It's just about the story but there are so many that you walk into maybe there even were words exchanged but they hug you and they tell you you know I love you you're Ok or just that tight hug they didn't even have to say anything this is a church your church family you have children now giving you that support as well absolutely did you kind of feel like maybe a church family is going to reject you. I can honestly tell you that even now today over 4 years later there are times where I will the story comes up right even now feel like there's going to be rejection somebody that maybe doesn't know me or or even maybe somebody who does that I've not talked to because there there are people that from that day have never spoken to me again who I have seen maybe the grocery store maybe and at the fair and they see me we make eye contact we know who we are but they'll turn and walk the other way more you it's very obvious that this is not going to be a conversation but your church family was there for you they were when you were in back to Jared's they very were. Very much so they you know hey a lot of it was here's a scripture I want you to read this because this applies this is something I've been doing people that come up I'm praying for you I want you to know that we love you I want you to know that you're safe here that it's Ok there's no judgments if you need anything call people there there were some individuals who I I knew the face but maybe didn't know the name but they took it out of themselves to come to me and say hey we're here for you you know people that that. We're for my family that my boys know hey you guys need anything if you have any problems you need to talk come to me and this this kind of support was all the way through from the very moment that I that I came forward and even one of the things I forgot to mention the doctor that I had talked to the man who should have been the angriest at me because he is now as my as my big boss is responsible for any actions that I do so he's now torn and has to report his friend to the state for something that he was overseeing so I put him in a in a terribly difficult position and he had every reason to turn I mean not only did he not turn on me he was unbelievably supportive to my family when I was gone when I was in rehab for 2 weeks he called my wife every single day sometimes more than once just to check Are you Ok Are the kids Ok do you need a gallon of milk do you need me to stop and pick up something I know this is tough is there anything that you need the that was above and beyond those were he didn't have to do that that is because of his character and again the love of Christ shown to me through him because of that that is a Christ move so how do you then get out of all of this situation now you have the support you you've got the church you went through rehab I saw so I came home when I came home was just before the July 4th holiday and we went up north to some family property and spent a fairly nice vacation with with my folks and and some other family members when I came home they issued a warrant for my arrest by that time I had an attorney. When I found that out I went my sister drove me up to the courthouse and I turned myself in and of course they put you in a cage and you know that you have to do paperwork and they handcuff you and walk you down there and. You get bailed out because once that process starts after the arraignment will then you have these these hearings you know or they come back any you please there's all this process so fast forward kind of through all of that and on November 23rd 22nd or 23rd I was I stood in front of a judge in front of my parents my wife strangers and 4 crew members who I had worked with side by side who were there even at that moment to show support and I had to stand in front of a judge and him tell me what was going to happen and he sends me to 30 days of jail as well as probation and all these other things but the big one was the jail because now. I can't go home I don't have my right eye I you don't even when they tell you you're going to jail they put you up in a front corner you don't even get to hug your family and tell them I'll see you know a bit there's nothing they just get up and walk out there's no goodbye nothing at all. So I did that they took me they took me to jail the 1st couple days you're in kind of this holding cell while they get you wait to get you processed and classified as to how how bad of a person you are basically and after after 2 days in there was given a cell and I was actually they called it an inmate worker it's kind of like trustee but they don't trust you so it's inmate worker that was a dorm with like 2223 other guys with you have to toilets and a shower on the wall behind this kind of half wall there's no privacy usually but on a on a 6 by 2 steel caught with a mattress you know you get a pillow you get just one will blanket and it's it's a whole different kind of life nobody wants and there's a reason nobody wants to go to jail right when I tell you right but what it does is it gives you this opportunity to stop for self reflection and to say this is not me this is not where I want to be what do I need to do today to get back to to get to out of here. So I picked up my Bible and I started reading and I started listening and feeling that love and feeling that that opportunity that no matter what I have done no matter how evil I've become. Nobody has given up on me yet God's not given up on me my friends have given up on me I'm going to be Ok I can do this I can get through this I didn't talk much when I was in jail just because I I I just didn't want that relationship I didn't want to tell people where what I have done from I mean I I'm I was a medic I was a cop I was a fireman and here I am in jail because I was an addict you know so I had all of these great things all of this opportunity in front of me and I just screwed it and now now I'm at the very bottom how do I deal with it how do I tell you. I had no reason I'm just stupid it made horrible decision so you just needed time to yourself and with your bible Yeah and just you when you're in there you get even when you get to talk to your family you get 20 minutes a week one day a week and it's through a video screen that they come in and they sit in a cubicle away from where you are and they talk to you and you're on it like a telephone but you're looking at a monitor there's no privacy there's no being able to hug your kids and all that and and I totally so I didn't want to there I didn't want my kids to ever remember Dad being in jail they know that dad was in jail they didn't I mean especially now as they know my story Dylan has actually been a part of me telling it a couple times right but I didn't want them to ever have in their mind that picture of me through a jail monitor so they never came Lisa came every day or I'm sorry every every opportunity every Sunday that she had she was there and we got our 20 minutes if you have a little I got cards from from all kinds of folks it's in jail they give you these little it's a special postcard you can't just send a letter you know and they. Just words of support just we're here we're thinking about you we know you're struggling but when you get out we're still going to be here that constant support throughout everything literally saved my life wow without a doubt that's amazing So now you got to get back to God He is studying the Bible and you go up there with the g.o.p. or and and when you get out what happened when I got out I the 1st thing I needed was to find work because I had bills to pay at the time my wife wasn't working so she was as I mentioned a special needs daughter so she was staying at home and a phenomenal mom she genuinely as she definitely has a gift in her patients is unbelievable. And as certainly somebody like me who has put her through what I've put her through right for her to still be standing there it is a blessing it's a true blessing Amen so I went to the doctor's office that I had been working for and I told him what do you think and he says Jason I like you you're good at what you do I want you here but right now I can't trust you but I'm going to let you work here. We're going to watch you and you're going to do testing and you're going to do all of these things because you're going to be accountable and if for any reason you screw up you're out but I'm going to give you that shot anyhow this same doctor gave you this that you know that this was the pain clinic. You know the other the medical control physician his hands were kind of tied because I had actually they had suspended my medical license Ok. And in that in in that moment for the investigation after the sentence was done I did with the state what's called a consent order which is where if you meet the terms of a certain probation you can keep your license as long as you continue to meet those terms that if you screw that up then they take your license and it's automatic so they did let me keep my paramedic license as long as I met criteria which involve drug testing and meetings and all of these type of accountability so as long as I had that the doctor that at the Pain Clinic was going to let me work and he did and God bless him if if he hadn't we would have lost the house we were because we had no other source of income and he just wasn't and I could turn to anybody else and say hey I'm an idiot when you pay my bills that's just not enough and I mean as I work I don't know if I could even if I could do that. Even if I could ask that who can do that you know nobody so that my wife or back to school got a job made things a little bit easier but it was it was a genuine blessing for that to happen and as I sort of. Acclimated to my new life life. I'm home a lot more we're doing a lot more things I'm sleeping well at night I'm spending time with my family and refocused refocused on where I needed to be with God at the center with that church experience this is what is most important and everything else if you kind of keep your eye on that just sort of falls into place even when you make the mistakes you know it's Ok because that's we're human we're going to make mistakes everybody understand that yeah and so that helps that helped keep me accountable and that was that was hugely instrumental a great example for my children to see is knowing that no matter what dad did because they very plainly can see that people are supporting dad and they know dad screwed up big but people still love him that's an example that I can't script that something to experience that they can see and so that was pretty pretty amazing for me the biggest lesson for me. To don't count people out a man believe in go forward talk ask for help. Be open about your mistakes allow people to love you don't shut them out people are going to support you there's going to be some that won't but the vast majority of people are going to understand that they make that you make mistakes just like you made and you know just kind of a little addition to it from that moment I am now I have been rehired working on any bills and have actually made it back to a crew supervisor position so my life has gone completely full circle except now full circle I have Christ at the center a man of me and my family. This is Michael Carona you have been listening to why I am here for more episodes please visit village s d a r g we would like to thank Pastor on killing and his pastoral stuff for making this show areality we would also like to think village Symon Day Adventist Church in Barron Springs Michigan for their support and sponsoring this show if you would like your story to be featured on this show please visit village s.d.a. daughter or Arjun if you have enjoyed this show please remember to subscribe review and share with your friends you can also listen to this show on your favorite podcast platform find us on Facebook and Instagram.

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