Patrick Flynn listening to the personal story of someone affected by the opioid crisis at a Someone You Know kiosk
In 2018, the Independence Blue Cross Foundation launched Someone You Know, a national campaign to reduce the stigma associated with opioid use disorder. The campaign shares the personal stories of those affected by the opioid crisis. From those in active recovery to those supporting loved ones, the individuals featured in the campaign are inspiring hope. To learn more about the Someone You Know campaign and to hear more stories, visit ibxfoundation.org/syk.
I never thought that I would live to write this. If you were to ask my mother five years ago if I would write a blog post about my journey, she would say the same thing. Five years ago, I felt like there was no light at the end of my tunnel — I was suffering gravely from substance use disorder and I could not see a way out. Luckily for my family and me, on October 8, 2014, I took my first steps into a life of recovery, and I have not looked back since. Today, I am a son, I am a brother, I am an uncle, I am Someone You Know.
A Ten-year Struggle
My struggles with addiction lasted for more than ten years. I first used a substance at the age of 12 and did not fully stop until a few days after my 25th birthday. I was in and out of treatment and rehabilitation centers throughout that time and became a prisoner to my drug use. I wish I could say that my addiction only affected me. While in the midst of it, I thought that was the case. I could not see how I was harming anyone besides myself. But if you have ever experienced addiction firsthand, you know that could not be further from the truth. My loved ones experienced sleepless nights wondering where I was, constant pleas for money, countless lies, and manipulation. The truth is, every single person in my life was being affected by my addiction in one way or another. Every single time I look back on that period of my life, the first thing that comes to my mind is my mother and the agony she went through wondering if her son — whom she loved with all her heart — would ever be back, or if this imposter who had taken over his body would be sticking around forever.
I never wanted to hurt my family. My love for them, and theirs for me, is unconditional. That doesn’t mean I did no harm. They had to deal with my addiction just as much as I did. They brought the weight of it with them wherever they went: on a morning walk, at work, while grocery shopping, or when winding down for the evening while watching an episode of Jeopardy. Where and how I was never left their minds.
My Life in Recovery
Since I took my first steps into recovery, my life has changed extraordinarily. When my niece, Cate, was born, I squandered my opportunity to be a godfather because of my active addiction. Now, I am able to be a present and involved godfather for my niece, Annie. I have an incredible career working with amazing individuals. I have become lifelong friends with people that feel more like family. Most importantly to me, I have my entire family completely in my life. They are proud of the man I have become and I am eternally grateful that they stood by me through thick and thin on the journey to where I am today.
The Someone You Know Associate Group: Breaking the Stigma of Addiction
Independence Blue Cross recently launched the Someone You Know group, an associate group that is working to break the stigma of addiction and raise awareness about the effects of addiction at work as well as at home. In a corporate setting, it is vitally important for the associates of Independence to support others who may be struggling with addiction; we need to be there for one another during these extremely vulnerable times. It is of paramount importance to show that no matter what an individual is going through, there is hope. The more we talk about addiction and how it affects individuals, regardless of race, gender, socioeconomic status, or anything else, the closer we will be to breaking down the stigma. I look forward to standing tall next to all members of this group, to stand as Someone You Know.