One Man's Story: How I Beat Addiction

Mike Devlin overcame his addiction to painkillers, cocaine, heroin and more. He shares his story.

Mike and Anita Devlin

Anita Devlin with her son Mike.

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How would you describe your experiences at rehab?

The strange thing was that I wasn't angry, and for the first time, I wasn't really scared. The woman who checked me in told me I looked too happy to be at rehab. At first I thought, "This is going to be a piece of cake." But then the drugs wore off and, you know, a week or two went by, and I started feeling miserable again.

After about a month at Caron, I knew I couldn't go back to Vermont. I needed to go somewhere where I was going to be surrounded by people who were struggling like me – but who were also trying to become young men who could live a sober life. And not just a sober life, but sober and happy. I knew there was a deeper, underlying issue, that drugs were not just my problem, but that there was something in my mind that led me to drugs. And that was something that was going to take more than 30 days for me.

What's your advice on talking to friends who are struggling with addiction?

I never wanted to hear somebody tell me what I needed. The friends who got through to me were the ones who sat there and began to understand me. They asked me questions about what was going on, so they could understand my story to the best of their knowledge, and then they used that to relate. My approach is almost exactly that: It's having a conversation with no judgment. As much as you can, try to relate to that person, and then plant a seed. Until somebody is ready to ask for help or accept help, they're going to go to any lengths they can to do what they want to.

What was your reaction when you heard the news about Cory Monteith?

Whenever I hear news like this, whoever it is, it hurts. At first I feel anger, because I'm not a super smart person. And I think, "If I can get this, anyone can." But the anger comes from pain, because I knew where he was at. I've been there and it's tough. The sad truth is, when you hear about someone who's been in and out of treatment, and dabbling with heroin and opiates and drinking, it's not a huge shocker. It's going to happen, and it's not going to stop. I've been sober for two and a half years, and I know people who have been for 12, 18, 20 years, and they've relapsed and died. It's something we have to deal with and conquer on a day-to-day basis.

This is part of a two-part series. For the perspective of Devlin's mother Anita, click here.