SEL Skills Articles

When Addiction Changes Your Life Story

As the holidays approach, this time of year often amplifies grief. Loss of loved ones, or even loss of “what used to be” becomes more… well, MORE.

I doubt anyone reading this has not been impacted by addiction… in some way, shape, or form. Today, I want to share a very important, powerful, and raw petition from my late friend, Derek.

Personally, I have lost three cousins to addiction. I’m the “baby” of 32 first cousins. My “big cousins” have always been rock stars to me. Yet, I’ve lost three of them.

That’s 10% of my generation… LOST to the battle of addiction! And, make no mistake, they were intelligent, strong-willed, compassionate people, raised in loving and faith-filled homes.

Addiction does not discriminate. Addiction ravages lives!

That brings me to my friend, Derek. At age 38, he lost his long battle with addiction this past summer. He left behind a family he adored, a wife and two teen daughters.

When he passed, a mutual acquaintance questioned his “life story,” emphasizing how sad it was that such a brilliant and successful entrepreneur needed a GoFundMe account to pay for his burial.

Yeah, well that’s true. But, something deep in my soul would not let that settle.

Derek’s Life Story had to be about more than the battle he lost. That prompted me to scroll through his Facebook page. I don’t know what I was looking for or what I hoped to find. But, I found a gem… Derek’s Life Story, written by Derek, himself, only six short weeks before a relapse would claim his life.

Please read Derek’s words with an open heart. Please say a prayer for his soul, that he may truly be resting in a peace he could not grasp on this earth. Say a prayer for the grief his family is shouldering in this season.

Please use his words to empower yourself and your loved ones. 

Please use his words to better understand the true BATTLE a friend, loved one, colleague, or even a stranger is facing when addiction has knocked on their door and entered into their life.

PLEASE let Derek’s Life Story make you a slightly better and more compassionate person than you are at this very moment. If his words make a positive impact on your life, you will honor him. You will honor his FIGHT. You will help fill the hole left in his wife’s and daughters’ hearts.

To our students’ success… and yours,

Susan Kruger Signature



Susan Kruger, M.Ed.

Derek’s Story, exactly as he posted on May 28, 2017…

(WARNING: high drama and 100% transparent truth dropped below, scroll on if you’re having an upbeat morning, I don’t wanna ruin that.)

2 addiction counselors just died of heroin overdose in the treatment center they worked at. (

You read that right.

Nobody is immune from this epidemic. As someone who’s life has been shattered from addiction, do not take this sh*! unless you’re feeling like the pain is going to kill you.

I didn’t start recreationally or obtain painkillers illegally in the beginning. I started with legit surgeries in my early teens. Slowly my brain created errors in thought and chemistry that made me believe I might die if I didn’t have a steady supply of whatever opioid I could get my hands on.

I did things I swore I’d never do. Opioids will suck the soul out of your body and put claws in your heart, then take away your free agency… or at least make you believe you don’t have a choice to stop. If you’re thinking, “Bullsh*!, you just don’t have enough willpower,” ask anyone who knows me if I have willpower and resolve. Then go f*** yourself, you’re ignorant and need to check yourself. I’m not sorry for saying that, I’m done associating with people who are still thinking that way. Please unfriend me.

Withdrawals from opioids alone rarely kill, but they make you wish you were dead and throw you into suicide ideation almost instantly. I pray nobody has this hand dealt to them.

Here’s how powerful addiction is: I lost millions of dollars, the respect of people I worked my ass off to gain, my health, committed crimes by buying them illegally from a nice soccer mom who had a lucrative side hustle going, having them shipped all over the country as I traveled on business (that’s what brown did for me), and most devastating of all, I lost the unwavering trust of my best friend and soulmate, Kristalyn. I’m literally crying as I type those words.  :_(

I have an extremely privileged life. I wasn’t abused, never went without, have always been able to earn income almost on-demand, even my in-laws –who should hate me with every ounce of their being and break my knees with a baseball bat for putting their saint of a daughter and first granddaughters through the hell I have– still talk to me and tell me they love me and don’t judge me.

For all intents and purposes, I should NOT have any reason to do what I’ve done. But I have, and it kills me to think of.

Here’s where it gets real: after all that, getting through detox so the dreaded withdrawals are over with, completing 78 days of inpatient treatment, just getting back on my feet…

My shadow caught up to me, and I did it all over again, but worse.

And again. And even worse.

I hated myself so badly I committed murder, of myself, just to rid the earth of the scum I had become.

I went through the misery of withdrawals on the cold concrete of a jail cell. But the emotional pain of regret, shame, and guilt for fucking up my dream life trumped the physical pain.

I cried Krista’s name in my sleep so loudly my cell mate woke me up and told me to get myself composed or others would see me as weak. My family and few remaining friends refused to bail me out of there because they actually felt better knowing I was safe. I don’t blame them at all. It was right for them to do that.

I could go on. It gets uglier.

Hopefully you get my point. This all started with codeine on my 5th birthday after I had my face smashed in by a metal baseball bat from my t-ball set. Then a shattered foot from motocross racing at age 12. Then something else at least once per year as I continued to destroy my body racing motocross. As you’ll read in the article I’m sharing, and the short 2 minute video embedded into the article about opioid addiction…


Opioids do have their place in our world, and give many people their life back. I’m not saying ban them, just be extremely cautious.

If you think you’re safe because your doctor prescribed them, do your research. I was getting pharmaceuticals way more powerful than any heroin I’ve ever tried.

*****You’re taking legal heroin.*****

1 out of 10 people will have their lives wrecked if they put these in their body long enough. The pain relief (physical and emotional) is unparalleled in the beginning. You’ll feel like you can do anything and there’s nothing to worry about in life.

“Why stop? I’m fine, my doctor knows what he’s doing” quickly became “I can’t stop or I’ll probably die!” I literally put satiating my addiction before food, my relationships, my integrity, before everything but air.

All because I made one fateful decision to get an ongoing prescription of Percocet to sleep without tossing and turning all night due to my chronic pain. I didn’t want to get high, or party. I just wanted to sleep through the night.

One day,

One decision,

to take one during the day to deal with the stress of a pain-in-the-ass client I had,

was all it took to erode away everything important to me and make all 3 of the cliche “jails, institutions, or death” become a reality in my life story.

So, be careful friends. You’re playing Russian roulette with these. There are a dozen or so alternative meds and therapies that work much better for everything after the acute pain goes away (no more than 10 days in my opinion). My pain has actually gotten much better now that I don’t take opioids.

Sorry for the drama, I’m not sharing this incredibly embarrassing story I’m ashamed of to get attention.

I’m telling you because too many people are dying, or having their lives destroyed because they think they’re immune and think doctors won’t let them get addicted. If one person reads this and tells their doctor to give them something else for pain, I’m willing to take negative judgement and trash talk from 4,000 of my other Facebook friends.

I really would take 100 kicks to my balls if it would save one person from this. Probably more if it was guaranteed to work.

Carry on now, hopefully my sharing this helps open a few minds.

=== End of Derek’s story. May God rest his soul in peace. ===

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