Project Resilience: Drug Addiction, Recovery And Giving Back
It's no secret that Utah has a drug problem. The state has one of the highest opioid-abuse problems and drugs like meth and heroin can be found in almost all communities.
These problems affect thousands of individuals and their families. But thousands also receive treatment for drug addiction, and many find the strength through their journey of recovery to reach out and help others.
Lauran and Jay Hymas are one couple who did just that.
This is a love story. It's honest. It's real. And it deals with drug addiction.
Lauran started using drugs at age 10. Jay grew up in a home where drugs were a normal part of life. They would eventually find each other, but first, here’s Lauran.
She just had her third child-- a girl this time. And during her pregnancy, she worked closely with her doctor to manage her addiction and prescriptions.
"They said she was having mild withdrawal symptoms from the Suboxone Subutex and I was worried, I mean, I lost so much sleep throughout the whole pregnancy,” Lauran said. “I mean, I was just like tore - like beat myself up - like, by this point I know I’m an addict right. Like, I’ve seen the chaos and like, them saying ‘If you stop these drugs during this pregnancy, you’re going to kill your baby.’ Like, ‘We have to monitor you.’
“So I went home with her, which was a blessing. They didn’t have to put her in the NICU, but then she got jaundice, and they admitted her right away. Her scores for the addition skyrocketed, and they had to start her on a Morphine drip. That one dose of Morphine, like she was just rigid, purple, no color. She wasn’t relaxed. And as soon as they put that syringe in her mouth, and gave it to her, she went pink, she relaxed, like the veins that were popping out went away. And, for me, that was hard. So I left the hospital; I went and drank a whole bottle of alcohol. And there goes the addiction again.”
Jay’s life was similar, in that it led to a very lonely place. Drugs, alcohol and parties were common in his boyhood home and that lifestyle followed him into adulthood. He had three kids, which led to a very difficult decision.
"I guess I kind of ran away scared,” he said. “I see now, the cycle. Like, I remember them pointing out in youth corrections like the cycle. You’ve got to break the cycle somewhere, and it was just like really heavy on me. Like, I’m raising my kids to end up in prison, end up in jail, end up on the streets, just like I did. And it was really scary to me. And I didn’t know what to do, or how to get help. So I left. And just pretty much walked away, which is a really shameful thing.
“I have a hard time even saying that. You know that’s a hard thing to put out there, but that’s kind of where my addiction took me. Carried onto a life in the streets, a life of uncertainty, you know, sleeping in canyons and motorhomes and hotels, just kind of anywhere for a solid ten years. My stuff was on my back for most of the time. You know, and I remember thinking to myself, ‘There’s no way, like, I could be - this is what I was meant to be. Like, this is just it, I’m just here. Like, this is how I’ll die, this is how I was raised. This is just it.’
“You know, and just every person I met, they had something they were trying to gain from me. That was the life I started leading. It was like a psychosis in my head. I was really scared, right, fear-driven into this like a rabid dog in a corner. Like I had to come out somewhere, you know, and I didn’t know how or where. A life of uncertainty and I was alone. No one ever felt like me - sorry.
“Then it happened: I met someone who did understand me. We were going through a lot of the same things, you know, just complete and utterly didn’t trust anyone. Completely didn’t have anyone. And that moment, like, when you realize someone cares and you don’t know how to care back, it’s just like a brick wall, right. So I was intrigued by it, you know, like ‘What’s going on.’ From there I started really questioning my own thoughts and actions in life."
Through this developing friendship, Lauran and Jay realized they could support each other’s recovery by going to rehab. It wasn’t easy, though. Failures happened. Heartache persisted. But they pushed through, and the walls started to come down and courageous vulnerability began to blossom.
An attribute that followed them into their life of recovery, outside of rehab where they started giving back. For Lauran, it was through yoga.
“I was at home, just sitting on Facebook, and I saw this yoga teacher training,” she said. “I call her up, and I was honest, I’m like ‘I’m in recovery, just maybe six months, and my checks are getting garnished like fifty percent, like I don’t have money, but I need this training. Like, can I - I can pay you a hundred bucks a month to do it.’ And anyway she’s like: Come do it, do it, just come check it out. And I went, and it was amazing. And we learned about Yamas and Niyamas. And they went in with my step work (I was working within the 12 Steps), and it worked in with the mind-body-spirit that I had learned at Clear Recovery. Like, I had a passion for it because that’s what helped me. That’s what helped me be okay in my body and just have moments of relief. And I wanted to give that backto others in recovery.”
And that’s what she did. She started by teaching a weekly yoga class at Clear Recovery of Cache Valley, a treatment center in Providence, where she and her husband Jay did their out-patient treatment.
And then an opportunity opened up and this power couple bought Clear Recovery and are now the owners, living proof to others struggling with addiction that recovery is possible and worth it. They get to interact with people every day as they all work towards conquering addiction.
“I always pull people in, and tell’em, like, I believe in you,” Jay said. “You know, I believe in you. That’s powerful. That’s one of my powerful punchlines is just believing in people, because I remember what it feels like to have someone tell me that. I had a biker dude down in Utah County. I was in rehab, and we went to a meeting, and he just like saw me - could see that I was struggling. I couldn’t hold still. I was probably beside myself, probably just a wreck. And he’s like, ‘Hang in there, Man, I believe in you.’ And that’s all he said to me. And, like, I wish I could track that dude down and tell him how much that meant to me.”
To learn more about recovery options, I spoke to Amber Kehl with the Utah Addiction Center. She says that success is often found when people struggling with addiction go into treatment with the knowledge that addiction is a mental health issue and may also be accompanied with trauma.
“And until those two things get treated, relapse is really high,” Kehl said. “There’s a huge recovery community in Utah and Salt Lake City that’s more than willing to be their family until they can earn that trust back. Everyone has a different path of recovery, and to embrace that is going to be really important.
“So it’s not a cookie-cutter thing; one thing is going to work great for one individual and it’s not even going to remotely work for another. Relapse doesn’t mean that it is a failure, it really is a chance to pivot into another. I’m not one to judge, you know, medication assisted treatment or harm reduction, like, it’s all about getting people resources. And they’re out there. The important thing is that they’re out there and there are so many and people don’t need to feel lost. They don’t have to feel forgotten because there is a program out there that fits their specific needs.”
Kehl encourages people to keep exploring options and find what works for them, even if it’s for the hundredth time.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration:
Free Rehab Centers:
Family Support and Treatment Center:
Soap 2 Hope UT:
Utah Addiction Centers: