Our 29th spotlight in the FACES OF HOPE: WE DO RECOVER series will focus on Will Sartaine’s story, “It’s Never Too Late”
When I was around age of 13 or 14 my parents divorced and I lived with my mom. With this new-found freedom, I began to use marijuana, cocaine, and alcohol. By the time I graduated high school, I was heavy into cocaine and selling it.
When I went to college I joined a fraternity. It was at this point that I was introduced to oxycontin. I would use it to come down from my days-long cocaine binges. I fell in love with the feeling I’d get from the “in between” when coming down. I also began selling cocaine and oxycontin to the other members of my fraternity. After two and a half years of living as a functioning addict, my increasing drug use got in the way and things began to slip. I began using other drugs. I began going to the doctor to get prescriptions of high powered narcotics. I dropped out of college, started selling on a larger scale, and began a cycle of being in and out of jail.
In a drug-related incident, my throat was cut and I was flown by helicopter from Morehead to Cabell Huntington hospital. After this I slowed down for a while, but this only lasted six months before I was hard at it again. I began going to various pain clinics in Florida. I also began stopping on the way back in Charlotte and picking up large quantities of drugs from a Vice Lord gang member to sell. After six months of this, a drug deal went bad and I was shot in the side and chest, causing my lungs to collapse.
After this I was good for about eight months, but once again it didn’t stay that way. By this time, the doctors in Florida were being shut down and I began going to doctors in Ohio, Tennessee, and Georgia. However, I realized that I could get pills easier from a source in Detroit. In 2011, I was recorded on both audio and video selling eighty-six pills. I was charged with organized crime syndicate and trafficking 86 dosage units of oxycodone. After fighting for sixteen months, the organized crime charge was dropped and I was given a 7 year sentence.
Describe your AHA moment
While I was in the county jail, the pastor of my grandparents’ church came to visit me. After this visit, I felt a bond with my grandparents. After being sober, I felt the shame that I had caused my family through my addiction. One night I had a spiritual experience. Finally God talked back to me. For the first time I wanted to get sober for myself, not for others. I wanted to be good for myself and for the Lord. I had never had that connection before. I felt my purpose, to help others.
Describe the feelings and emotions while in active addiction
The majority of my addiction I was numb. Those years feel like one long blur. Any emotion was either very high or very low. I felt like I was so far gone that there was no coming back; I felt like I was so bad that I could never become good again.
What is the driving force that keeps you going when times get tough?
My faith in Jesus Christ is what keeps me going through everything. My purpose and calling in life is to help others. I feel like God brought me through so much because I can help a lot of people.
What obstacles or roadblocks have you encountered along your recovery journey?
One of my biggest roadblocks was expecting people to notice that I had changed right away, but they didn’t. I thought that by going around and telling everybody that I had four or five months that they would see the difference in me, but that wasn’t reality. It wasn’t until they continued to see my changed behavior after about two years that they really realized the changes in me. I also expected myself to be perfect overnight. I had to learn that change is a process that takes time. In this I learned that I couldn’t listen to old friends or the people around me, especially the people that were doubting me. I had to keep doing right no matter what. I had to walk by faith, not by sight.
What is something you want people who have never struggled with addiction to know?
Addiction can affect anybody. It affects all walks of life. It’s not only the homeless person in the street or the person that is getting arrested. It can affect lawyers, doctors, preachers, or teachers.
What advice do you have for the family members of a person in active addiction?
Love and support your family member, but don’t enable them. Urge them to get help. When seeking treatment, I suggest that you find a faith-based program. A faith based program will heal the mind, body, and soul.
In closing, I ask for everyone to please pray for all those still addicted and anyone out there that needs help. Also coming through active addiction I learned that having a good support system is huge. Thinking back I’m not sure how I would have made it without my family, friends and people from church.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please call Addiction Recovery Care at 606.638.0938 or visit them on the web at www.arccenters.com.
There is hope. There is help.