Patterson shares his struggles with opioid addiction
IMLAY CITY — The last time he walked the halls of Imlay City High School, Patrick Patterson was the starting running back on the football team and a member of the Homecoming Court. When he received his diploma in 1998, no one, including himself, thought his future would include addiction and homelessness.
“Life wasn’t supposed to be this way, but I’m here to tell you there is a way out of addiction,” he told members of the senior class at his alma mater last month.
Patterson and Steve Morningstar, a fellow Imlay City grad, were special guest speakers at the high school in November.
Patterson, who now serves as Center Manager for the Blue Water Recovery and Outreach Center (BWROC) in Port Huron, was there in person to tell his story and field questions from students. Morningstar spoke to the teens remotely via a video feed.
Patterson got addicted to prescription painkillers at the age of 32 and, like so many others, those pills served as a gateway to heroin.
“Life was good but then I was parting out my couch to pay for my habit,” Patterson said.
His addiction and his refusal to admit he had a problem destroyed relationships and personal losses only magnified his reliance on the drug.
“Opiates can take away your emotional pain too,” he recalled.
When he was in high school, heroin was a back-alley street drug but as it’s become more common, it’s taken a greater toll on society and expanded it’s reach to people of all ages from all kinds of backgrounds.
Patterson recalls entering rehab and seeing a familiar face—a 19 year-old kid he had helped coach on his younger brother’s baseball team.
“Drugs aren’t coming…they are here,” he warned.
Today, his work with the Blue Water Recovery and Outreach Center has Patterson working with local businesses and organizations to spread awareness about opioids and addiction. That includes everything from serving as a keynote speaker at events to training managers on how to spot signs of drug use and use naloxone, a drug that can reverse overdoses.
Imlay City High School is partnering with Patterson and BWROC this school year to help students and families dealing with issues related to opioid abuse. Principal Brian Eddy highlighted some of those plans in a video interview with Patterson posted on the BWROC Facebook page.
Eddy said they hope to incorporate addiction and addiction awareness into health curriculum for seniors and plan to show ‘My Secret is My Story,’ a documentary that features Patterson and four other local residents who are recovering from addiction.
“I know the shame and guilt will never go away but talking about it aids in that process,” he said.
“And in order to reduce the stigma of addiction, we have to talk about it.”
For more information about Blue Water Recovery and Outreach Center, find them online at bwroc.org, on Facebook or call 888-682-9762 or 810-689- 4858.