- Associated Press - Monday, September 4, 2017

LOGANSPORT, Ind. (AP) - In October 2005, Shane Crow woke up face down in a ditch near a deserted highway in Washington state. The night before, he had been drinking alcohol and doing meth with a group of bikers in an RV.

Crow didn’t know he was actually in the company of felons who were dodging authorities by camping out in the middle of nowhere. He just knew he wanted to get high.

The sun was shining, and there was a hint of fog in the air when Crow opened his eyes. Looking around, there were no signs of the bikers or the RV. Probably believing he was dead, Crow said the group just left him there on the side of the road.

He stood up and made his way to a gas station, where the attendant inside called for an ambulance. The next thing he said he remembered was waking up in an area hospital, severely dehydrated and with a deadly concoction of drugs and alcohol in his system.

It was his first overdose. He was lucky he didn’t die, he said.

And though he could have stopped abusing drugs and alcohol then, he didn’t.

There was also the time Crow was involved in an automobile crash that sent him flying partially through the windshield. Too intoxicated to know whether he had hit or killed anyone, Crow said he remembers waking up in a padded jail cell with pieces of glass still in his face.

And though he could have stopped abusing drugs and alcohol then, he didn’t.

Twelve years ago, Crow’s little brother, Justin, died from drug addictions. He said he still remembers the phone call and his mother wondering if she would end up losing both her sons to addiction. Justin was Shane’s only sibling.

And though he could have stopped abusing drugs and alcohol then, he didn’t.

“I constantly found myself around people that used. I was very selfish and hurt a lot of people,” Crow, 39, said while sitting alongside his wife, Tami, last week in his Peru residence. “I stole from a lot of people and physically hurt them.”

Completely clean for five years now, Crow said he’s a different man than he was back then. But looking back at the 30 years he was addicted to drugs and alcohol, he said he still doesn’t know how he’s not currently in prison or dead.

He said his addictions started around age 8, when he took his first sip of alcohol. As he grew, so did the addiction. He began to hang around with the wrong group of friends, and it became a living nightmare.

There were times Crow said he’d be up for several days in a row without sleep. Other times, he found himself walking around town without any idea where he was or how he got there. One night, he even woke up on a couch with a roll of money in his pocket and no recollection of where it came from.

Then there were the arrests and stints in rehab that Crow said often come with drug addiction. Arrested at least 22 times, he also estimates he has seen the inside of about 30 rehab facilities. None of them seemed to work, he said.

“The most frustrating thing about me being hospitalized all those years and being in and out of centers was therapists that were never down my road,” he said. “And they’re going to counsel me on my addictions? I would sit there and think, ‘are you kidding me right now?’ I didn’t take them seriously because they weren’t down that road and had never been down that road.”

Crow said he told himself at the time that if he could just get clean, he would help others in his shoes.

And that’s exactly what he did.

With family support and his own desire to turn his life around, he began to progress out of his addiction. He learned to properly cope with life’s tragedies, like the loss of his brother, without the use of drugs or alcohol. But even now, five years later, the choice to stay clean can still be a daily battle. It always will be, he said.

“You just have to say ‘not today,’” he said. “I’m not saying it hasn’t been hard. I’ll battle it the rest of my life. I still think about it every day, but it’s more of a choice for me now. I just had to totally change my whole lifestyle.”

Part of that change is through counseling others that are currently in their own struggles with addiction, including one of his own family members. As he described that, Crow got emotional.

He said he constantly worries about that particular family member, and seeing how addiction affects loved ones gives him a greater understanding of what his mother went through with him.

“The way these drugs are nowadays, you don’t know what you’re taking,” Crow said. “I don’t want to get that phone call like I got with my brother. It’s going to take him hitting rock bottom before it wakes him up, and I just hope the timing is right that I can talk to him then.”

And when that day comes, Crow said he’ll be prepared. But until then, he prays for healing. It’s that faith that has helped him overcome his own battles with addiction.

Crow is a long way away from where he was back then. But you can’t change the past, he said - you can only learn and grow from it.

So that’s why he’s a man on a mission. It’s an urgent one, too: Overdoses are continuing to take brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers and children, and Crow wants to help change that.

“I feel like if I’m open with my addiction, other people will be, too,” he said. “I just feel like I’m able to help somebody out more because I’ve been through it, and I know what it does to families. It’s not a game. This is life or death.”

And that’s why he said events like the “Austin’s Hope Overdose Awareness Rally” at Cornerstone Community Bible Church’s student ministries building in Galveston are so important.

Austin’s Hope was founded by Mike and Tammy Boyles, who lost their son, Austin, to a heroin overdose in 2016. Over the past year, the Crows have become friends with the Boyles, and Shane was asked to speak at the gathering.

Justin Phillips, executive director of the Indianapolis based organization, Overdose Lifeline, also was to be on hand to pass out free Naloxone kits to those in attendance.

For Crow, the event was to be just another avenue in which to share his story. Even if that story resonates with just one person, it’ll be worth it, he said.

“Addiction is a monster,” he said. “It blinds you to all the good things in life. To see the different perspective of it now, you know, I can beat myself up every day for what I’ve done in the past, but I can’t change that. My deal is to just look forward and try to help anybody that I can.”


Source: (Logansport) Pharos-Tribune


Information from: Pharos-Tribune, https://www.pharostribune.com

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