Matt Bell is 29 years old and from Toledo OH. He never thought that he’d become a drug addict, either. He never knew anything about drugs, he didn’t even want to smoke cigarettes growing up! Matt had a great upbringing, in a good home, with an amazing loving family. He went to private schools from kindergarten through his senior year of high school. Then, he went to college at a Division 1 university on a full athletic scholarship for baseball. He even ended up graduating high school with a 4.0 GPA. So, what happened?
He tore his rotator cuff as a sophomore in college and was given 90 Percocet. Roughly one week later he was physically dependent. To sum things up, pills became expensive, he dropped out of college, and one day he couldn’t get any pills because of the price and lack of availability. Then, someone offered him heroin because it was cheaper and stronger; after that day he shot heroin for 9 years. He was a shell of who he used to be, a shell of who he wanted to be, and who he always imagined he’d be when he was growing up. He lost everything and everyone in his life. He was arrested 13 times in 4 different states, and is now a convicted felon. He’s overdosed and died while he was then kept alive for 5 days by machines in an ICU.
In Toledo, OH we have 16 federally funded detox beds for an estimated 10,000 opiate addicts. He was lucky and was able to get into one of those detox beds through the DART program, which was a program developed by Sheriff Tharp and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.
In detox, Matt along with 3 other friends who are also still sober today, started Team Recovery, an advocacy group for addicts trying to do some things differently and make some changes; specifically, to make recovery attractive and fun. They try to change the stigma attached to addiction and make people realize that addicts are not all bad. They also go and speak at schools—6th grade through college—all over Ohio, and all over the country regarding drugs and alcohol. Their aim is to support the family members who also need healing and support.
Today, Matt is employable, pays taxes, helps others, and obeys the law. He has a steady and good job, he’s happy, involved with his family and friends, and has people in his life who genuinely care for him. Matt speaks daily with police, judges, coroners, doctors, treatment providers, police & fire chiefs, all in an effort to collaborate in this fight against opiates.