Patrick O'Donnell

Let's say hello to Patrick and give him some love, support and encouragement.

This young man is a recovering addict from Ashland. We had a very uplifting conversation with him over lunch yesterday. His awareness is very apparent, yet he remains humble. We discussed many things, but the one thing that came up the most is the importance of spiritual growth during our recoveries - and ultimately how society as a whole will benefit greatly from this same spiritual growth and understanding.

Patrick, thank you for sharing your experience strength and hope. We are forever grateful and wish you all the best in your spiritual journey through recovery.

Q: Could you briefly tell us about yourself? 
A: I'm 25 years old and I live in Wilkes barre pa. I grew up in Ashland, PA and lived there for 25 years. Growing up I was always looking for attention any way I could get it. I felt left out and when the time came I picked up a drink to fit in with everyone and I'm not sure if I fit in but it didn't matter anymore that feeling of being left out went away but I still wanted more and more attention from everyone so I followed what they were doing and started using other drugs. I picked up opiates and benzos around age 14 and I can remember the feeling I got from that was what I've been looking for. It took me out of myself and my thoughts. I continued using and ended up dropping out of high school at 18 and turned all of my attention into using drugs. At 19 I picked up heroin and felt "peace" for the first time in my life. The next 6 years were spent living to get high and at first I loved to do it but when the heroin stopped working I turned to bath salts and what always seemed like a good life on the outside wasn't even close to what I felt on the inside. I felt empty and alone and after some time I was ok with the fact that I was going to die. It seemed to be the easier way out of what I had felt for so long. I thought there would never be a way out of what I was doing

Q: What was your drug of choice? 
A: heroin, bath salts, crystal meth were above everything else but I would do anything I could

Q: What is your sobriety date? 
A: March 11th 2015

Q: Looking back, was there a turning point during your active addiction?
A: my turning point was when I picked up bath salts and heroin after being on suboxen for a few years. I went to a new extreme and lost all hope for life. At one point after a trip to rehab and a psych ward I picked up once again disappearing from my family only to show up weeks later and being rushed to the hospital by my parents. I spent 14 days in a special care unit and after went back to another treatment center and after another 28 days returned home only to pick up again. That was the point I was convinced I was an addict and could not stop using.

Q: What is a slogan that best expresses your current pint of view in recovery?
A: when I was in treatment my counselor gave me a piece of paper on one side it said HOPE and on the other it had a quote from Winston Churchill that said never never never never ever ever ever ever give up and I carried that with me everywhere to remind myself to never give up no matter what. As long as I don't give up on this process I will make it through anything.

Q: What are some daily practices and key aspects in your life that assist you in your recovery? 
A: I fall short on a daily basis but the biggest thing for me is prayer and meditation, and helping others. Another big thing for me is living in the moment and being in the here and now.

Q: As a person in recovery, do you have any advice you could offer to someone looking to get clean?
A: For me I had to come to a point where I had enough pain and was willing to do anything to change. Do it for yourself, asking for help is a good start but accepting the help is where it really starts. Knowing none of my ideas work and being willing to listen to other people and take direction from those people.

Q: Addiction is affecting hundreds in Schuylkill County and abroad. It's very saddening. Any advice to people trying to help their loved ones to seek help?
A: show love and support in any way and sometimes the best love is by completely cutting loved ones off as hard as it seems it could save someone's life. Also getting involved and finding out more about addiction and understanding it more because it is a family disease and the whole family suffers from it.

Q: Why are projects like "The Skook Recovers" important in this day and age?
A: I think it's a great way to give back to the community and to show people that there is a better way of life out there and to show people that no one is alone in this and we have all been there and felt the way one does in active addiction.

Q: Tell us about the good things that your new life in recovery has brought to you and/or improved?
A: recovery has changed my life. The biggest part of it is being able to be a part of my family again. It's been a long struggle but today I'm involved with my family. I no longer take from them and I'm able to cherish the relationship I have with them. Being a son , a brother, and an uncle seemed impossible in my addiction but today it's not and I get to spend time with them enjoy being with them and I can be strong for them in tough times. They actually want me to be there today and that's a true blessing in my life.

Q: Anything else you would like to add?
A: If you are like me then you would probably think that anything to do with recovery is ridiculous but after the pain and suffering I went through for years of my life I finally gave it an honest shot and today I have no doubts that what I did worked and with the help of others and God it continues to work everyday. It doesn't matter what you do or where you come from recovery is possible for anyone.