For Kyle Stark “4-19-16” date marks an important milestone in his life. It was the last day for him as a drug addict. Next day, April 20, his family staged an intervention and confronted Stark about his addiction to prescription painkillers.
Stark spent more than a decade trying to keep his addiction a secret; secretly hoping none of his friends or coworkers would find out he could no longer go more than a few hours without popping some OxyContin. He realized how his addiction severely anguished his children.
“We were not in a good place,” Stark recalled. “It was all because of me.”
He decided right there, it was time to stop taking pills.His body and mind endured weeks of miserable agony as he experienced withdrawals, but he stuck to his promise. More than three years later, Stark is sober and on a mission to keep others from falling under the spell of opioids.
“There’s a pure anger in my soul with these things: Now I know what they are and what they do,” Stark said. “They almost ruined me.”
Public health officials described the situation as a rampant epidemic plaguing communities across the country.
Pharmaceutical companies have to reckon with their culpability in creating the crisis, as states and cities take them to court and accuse them of putting profits over patients. It was not until his own research, years later, did Stark understand just how sinister and orchestrated the whole epidemic seemed to be. “When you start diving into it, you just realize how evil this whole thing is from top to bottom,” Stark said. “I kind of just want to shed a light on what’s a really dark area.”
It was getting tougher to find people selling pills, he recalled, because more public attention was steered to the increasing prevalence of the opioid epidemic. Stark’s confident he won’t ever relapse because he’s more aware of how toxic opioids are. He’s found a healthy regimen that keeps him from craving the narcotics and he’s honest about the mistakes he made in his past – mistakes he hopes not to make again. “For the first time in my life, I like myself,” Stark said.