- Associated Press - Saturday, June 25, 2016

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) - Two weeks before his son was born on the coldest night of the year, Will Lockwood woke up in the hospital after suffering his first overdose.

“I laid in the back of a car for nine hours, went in with severe hypothermia, nerve damage to the right side of my body,” Lockwood said. “My hand was drawn up and my foot would sporadically wiggle. I had no control over it.

“I woke up from that extremely angry and resentful. I pushed every person who had ever loved or cared for me out of my life. It was a pretty low point in my life. I would like to say I walked out of that hospital and stayed clean and sober, but that’s not it either. It got even worse.”

The 25-year-old Barboursville native has probably been through more ups and downs than some people go through their entire lives.

But his life started quietly. Lockwood said he wanted for nothing and had all the opportunities in the world growing up. He had a loving family who instilled in him morals and values he still calls upon today.

In 7th grade, he started smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol. He was hanging out with an older crowd, and he said it was just the thing to do on weekends.

“It was social acceptability,” he said. “I wanted to be popular.”

At 15, he was introduced to prescription narcotics and cocaine. By 16, he was into a full-blown addiction.

“The party never stopped for me,” he said, until police broke up a gathering where he was selling drugs.

He spent 13 months in a juvenile detention center. Still, he was able to graduate with his high school class, and he was accepted into Marshall University.

“It was the first time I was introduced to the 12-step fellowship,” he said.

“I can remember the first time the honest admission at the age of 18, identifying myself as an addict. It was like a shockwave went through me. I had cold chills all over, because all these questions were running through my mind. How did I get here? How is this possible for somebody like me?”

He joined a fraternity and with money in his bank account from student loans, Lockwood ignored the voice in his head as his life spiraled.

He started using Oxycontin, and from there he began doing things he never thought he would do like IV drug use, stealing, lying and manipulating.

In 2010, he entered his first 28-day treatment program.

“Again, I remember sitting in those meetings and classes, and people coming to share their experience and hope,” Lockwood said. But he was not receptive to the advice and what followed was a “blurry four-year period.”

Lockwood said he had multiple attempts at recovery, entering programs in West Virginia, Virginia, and Cincinnati. He tried multiple Suboxone programs hoping medication-assisted treatment would be the answer. It wasn’t.

He also tried the military, hoping the Army would be able to sort him out. He was discharged after his first overdose.

“After I came back from the military, here I am with about a 6-month old newborn and a fiance who is absolutely fed up with my actions, and I went on a downward spiral,” he said.

It was again back to doing things he never thought he would do. He got clean for 13 months in 2012, then relapsed again.

“I reached an all new bottom,” Lockwood said. “I could not step back into the solution, because I was so guilt-ridden, shameful and remorseful. I’m saying all these things so that when we do talk about the solution it will help somebody.”

He hadn’t seen his son in seven months - rightfully, he said.

“I didn’t love myself,” he said. “I wasn’t capable of loving him.”

Feeling like a social pariah, Lockwood said he went on a mission to end his life.

He overdosed four times in two weeks, the first two times being revived by naloxone, the final two times being woken up by his drug dealer banging on his chest in a motel bathroom.

His final overdose became his sobriety date: Sept. 4, 2014.

“At the time I called it a moment of clarity, but now I truly believe firmly it was God. I can remember looking at myself in the mirror and hearing my own voice in my head saying you are worth more than this,” he said.

He reached out for help to a man he used to hate: Rocky Meadows, executive director and founder of The Lifehouse.

Today, Lockwood is the director of development for The Lifehouse.

Lockwood said it took building a foundation with the 12-steps, but most importantly allowing God into his life to change his life.

“I don’t see the good in people today, I see God in people,” he said.

His life, he said, is second to none.

“I’m instilling hope in people like me,” he said. “Every day at work I see Will Lockwood walk through the door.”

He was also able to rebuild his relationships with his family.

“Recovery for me isn’t just about staying clean and sober,” he said.

“That’s almost the bare minimum. Then what? Today, I am a productive member of society. A taxpaying citizen. I vote. But not only that, I’m a father, full-time father. I participate in my son’s life. It’s great. I don’t miss out. He just started tee ball. I don’t have to miss any of the firsts anymore. That’s all through the grace of God.”

Lockwood will soon begin school at Marshall again, pursuing his dream of becoming an attorney like his father and grandfather.

He has true inner peace, he said, something he searched for in pills and powders but never found until he found God.

___

Information from: The Herald-Dispatch, http://www.herald-dispatch.com

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