GREENVILLE — Justin Cameron Powell is a recovering addict, and the 41-year-old has been making motivational presentations at various functions to encourage others not to go down that same route and, if they’re already on that path, to stop.
Powell said he started using alcohol and marijuana in his 20s and also did cocaine once in a while. In his mid-30s, he was on pain pills and heroin.
“I have had multiple surgeries on my right knee and was on Percaset and Oxycontin,” he said. “I had surgery on my arm from using a dirty needle. The year before I was in there for my knee. I was snorting heroin two days before and fell in love with it and was not feeling any pain.”
He started abusing alcohol in high school.
“I learned at a young age how to numb my feelings,” Powell said. “I can’t let go if I do something wrong. The old me was trying to numb everything to let it go away…. my marriage, business. I now have two sons I see all the time and a daughter I haven’t seen for a year.”
Powell, who has served in the U.S. Marine Corps, said he would always act on impulse and bought anything without thinking of the cost.
“I have had depression my whole life,” he said. “I had a lot of successes at a young age and spent my money on big toys and cigarettes.”
It was in September last year, that he thought enough was enough.
“I had lost my best friend, and I went to [Darke County Adult Probation Officer] John Tabler for help,” he said. “I was not seeing my kids and I was wishing I were dead every day. I was trying to die everyday.”
The turning point for him, he said, was when he was not seeing his children.
“They got me sober, but no one could keep me sober,” he said.
Powell said he was spending $40 a week on drugs when he first started using, and that went up to nearly $1,000 at one point.
In order to pay for it, he began stealing.
“The last five or six felonies were usually from family,” he said. “I probably stole $20,000 to $30,000 from them. My family wanted me clean. They never thought I could.”
The son of Teresa Green and Stuart Powell, he said he knows he hurt his entire family.
He spent time at Nova House, a rehabilitation facility in Dayton, for 37 days.
“The first time I was there for 5 1/2 months, but I lost my grandma and uncle,” he said.
Last September, he said he was awake for 15 days straight. He now has been in recovery for 8 1/2 months.
Powell is concerned with the escalating number of heroin and other drug users today.
“I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think we’ve seen the worst of it,” he said. “There was Fetanyl then but not like now. Back in 2014, I was breathing six times a minute and the sheriff didn’t know how they saved me.”
He now takes a Vivitrol shot.
“It’s a safety net,” he said.
Powell, who is now employed by a local manufacturing firm, said when he was under the influence, he was pure evil with no remorse.
“I was a monster at one point,” he said. “I never physically hurt or robbed someone but it could come to that. I was a follower on the dark side. I could work at a regular job.”
He never sold drugs, however.
“I couldn’t hold onto it long enough to sell it,” he said.
Powell said he still has his ups and downs.
“The longest I’ve been clean was in 2008 when I was in prison,” he said. “I always wanted what I couldn’t have. I had never been happy but I’m happier now than I’ve been in my life.”
His advice to others headed down that path?
“Whatever you’ve seen or heard, it does not touch reality of how bad it is,” he said. “No other drug touches heroin. If I can do quit, anybody can. I hate losing at anything. It’s not all about me anymore; I’ve got kids.”
This writer may be reached at 937-569-4315. Follow her on Facebook and join the conversation and get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.