"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

The tale of two recoveries — Joseph Hunter

By on April 27, 2020 in Uncategorized with 0 Comments
Joey Hunter smiles with his daughter Karma Grace on the beach at Ocean Shores, Oregon during a recent family vacation.

Joseph Hunter’s path to  addiction started in 1996, at 16. It started with marijuana,    alcohol and cocaine. At 18 he did his first line of meth. 

Joey grew up in a poor family and said he never felt comfortable in his own skin. He was bullied in grade school, but held down straight A’s until his junior year of high school. However, he never graduated. 

 “Drugs were too important,” he said. “I was an honor roll student, a boy scout and played football and basketball until I tasted meth in 1998.” 

In 2006 Joey tried heroin for the first time and “found out what true love really was.” 

He turned to the drug when — after breaking his ankle — he was prescribed the pain medication Percocet. When he went in for a refill, he failed a urinalysis and was denied further medication.

“Before I got prescribed pills I had a wonderful job, a good life,” he said. “It took everything away from me that was good. A friend of mine introduced me to heroin. It was cheaper. It was readily available. There were no questions, no pee test, no nothing. And it took care of the pain.”

He had never been an angel, but even when he was getting drunk at the bar every night and doing meth a few times a week he was still able to hold down a job and put a roof over his head. Heroin took things to another level. 

He spent the next decade as a transient and eventually lived on the streets in Moses Lake. 

Begging and stealing for enough to get his next fix, Joey regularly found himself in the backseat of a police car. He was no stranger to a jail cell either, and the authorities were looking to send him away for more than two years on an assortment of charges. 

That’s when an ex-girlfriend, the mother of his first daughter, visited him in jail. Her father had recently died due to drug and alcohol abuse and she said she didn’t want the same thing for their child. 

“That moment something changed,” he said. “I’d been out there so long in this state of homelessness, running the streets, that I didn’t think anyone out there even cared about me anymore. I didn’t even care about myself.” 

When he got released he decided to get clean, and went to 180 12-step meetings in 90 days. At his next court date, he went before a judge who had seen him bouncing in and out of jail for a decade. He produced proof that he had been attending meetings and was making a real attempt at recovery. 

The judge dropped the charges and wished him luck in his new life. Now he’s been clean since Dec. 26, 2016 and has become a certified recovery coach. 

He currently sponsors 12 other men and through social media he reaches hundreds more in the recovery community. He and his friend Victor Estrada have started running virtual recovery meetings in these times of social distancing. 

He works as a machinist and has a close-knit family, raising four girls with his longtime girlfriend. He recently bought a used Jeep 4×4 and likes to go fishing and off-roading. 

Joey’s struggles are shared by a growing population of Americans. 

About 1 in 10, or 23.5 million people in this country deal with drug and alcohol abuse. But Joey is in a minority in that group because only about 11 percent of that 23.5 million ever receive or seek addiction treatment. 

It’s hard to calculate the odds of Joey making it from where he was to where he is today, but his story proves that with the right support systems socially and an earnest desire to change individually, it can be done. 

Dominick Bonny is an entrepreneurial journalist who creates written word and video stories on a freelance basis, manages social media accounts and communication campaigns. The stories above come from a number of interviews he did with Victor and Joey for a video series called “Stories of Recovery.” The series was produced for the North Central Accountable Community of Health on behalf of the Central Washington Recovery Coalition. To see all the videos in the series, visit https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbiIItGRy2CHDJpIheRkq6g/featured?view_as=subscriber

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