Through struggle and success, couple continues recovery from opioid addiction

Survival. Imagine being in the depths of addiction not knowing from one day to the next if you will live. This is a story of the struggle and the success. WGN Medical Watch wanted to share the update of a young couple we first introduced you to in our opioid series, Hijacked. Their brains were hijacked by this drug. Their story today is one of inspiration and caution.

Ryan Johnson is recovering from drug addiction. In a recent interview he said, “Things have been great.”

It was a far cry from his first interview with WGN. In 2017, barely a year clean from the depths of opioid addiction, Johnson told us he heard voices calling him back to drugs every day.

“I have this screaming voice in my brain, and that voice screams above everything else when I am in active addiction that I have to get it,” he said at the time. “Without recovery, this doesn’t exist. None of this exists.”

He and Megan, who is also recovering from addiction, had a beautiful baby Lennon they wanted so desperately to stay sober for. But every day was a struggle.

Fast forward nearly three years and Johnson is making a home for his family.

“If I discontinue the things that I’m doing today, you know for me and for my spirituality and for my recovery, if I discontinue those things, that will come back,” he said.

"Put forth the same effort you took to getting what you needed, the drugs or alcohol. If you put that same effort into your sobriety, you are going to get the same results,” Megan said. “Every time you put effort in, you got the drugs. So, every time you put effort in, you are going to gain sobriety.”

Make no mistake, some days are uncomfortable. But the voices of dread have been replaced with the sweetest sounds. Daily meetings with their newborn have been replaced by alternating days as Johnson and Megan mix parenthood with progress.

Johnson said he goes to 12-step meetings four to five times a week.

“When you make the right actions every day to get there, you will see the recovery process taking hold,” Johnson said. “But it’s a lot of work. It’s not, ‘Oh, I’m going to not use drugs, and everything is going to be great.’ And then it wasn’t great. Life still happens. Unfortunately, as drug addicts, we don’t know how to live life, that’s why we have to be constantly taught how to live life by other people, and we make those actions day by day.”

A letter that inspired them from their daughter, written by a friend supporting their sobriety, prominently pasted on the refrigerator.

It reads:

Thank you mommy and daddy for choosing recovery and for giving others hope.

The letter is still in the kitchen of their new home, but it is now off to the side. Healthy people recovering from addiction don’t need the warning staring them in the face. They know the cost of losing this battle. It’s a price they have vowed not to pay, even when Johnson lost his father and best friend.

“And that was always my one reservation, ‘When my daddies, I’m going off the deep end,’” he said. “(But) it was never even a thought. If I don’t have to use through that, I don’t have to use through anything.”

“You just have to do whatever it takes and make it work,” Megan said. “And we do. We not only make it work, but we’re happy about it.

The couple once again bravely tells their story to show others recovery is possible. They remind people they sponsor now to work as hard at recovery as you did to find drugs in the first place, at all costs.

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