Given his years of reckless behavior while addicted to opioids and alcohol, Taylor is amazed he didn’t accidentally kill himself or anyone else.
He made a hobby of test-driving new cars while high. He’d drive 150 mph on highways while drunk. One winter, while working a winter oil-field job in North Dakota, he regularly sped on the icy interstate.
“I remember driving with one eye open because I was seeing double,” recalls Taylor, now 26 and an Ideal Option patient with over three years in recovery.
Seven times, Taylor landed in the hospital with serious drug-related ailments, sometimes needing a ventilator to breathe.
Taylor’s parents had even planned his funeral. “They had pictures ready and were prepared for me to die,” Taylor remembers.
But their fears never materialized. Today, Taylor is a husband and a new dad, with a fulltime job and a passion for fishing and camping with his family.
“My parents are shocked and ecstatic,” Taylor says. “My dad talks to me like I’m his friend again. My mom cries every time she sees me. It’s awesome to see her not worried every day.”
Before Taylor became dependent on alcohol and drugs, he was addicted to food and cigarettes.
In middle school, he was an “anxious mess,” depressed about being overweight and teased by classmates. He’d drink 15 cans of soda a day and endless amounts of junk food, and he’d spend his lunch money on cigarettes.
By age 13, he was smoking a pack a day. By 15, he weighed 320 pounds and had dropped out of high school.
That’s when he began exercising obsessively, to the point of collapse, while going days without eating.
“My friends were getting girlfriends and I was jealous,” Taylor remembers. “Nobody wanted to date the fat kid.”
The weight melted off, and Taylor’s confidence skyrocketed. “I felt like Superman,” he says.
He began taking Adderall for ADHD and drinking cheap vodka. Then he added painkillers to the mix, following multiple foot surgeries to correct damage caused by the excess weight he’d carried as a child.
“When I lost all the weight, they had to rebuild my feet with titanium plates, bone grafts and screws,” Taylor says. “They kept pumping me full of Percocet, and I’d play it up, saying, ‘It hurts so bad’ when it wasn’t that bad.”
Soon, Taylor was stealing pain pills from his grandparents and experimenting with acid, mushrooms, and other drugs. “I was always intoxicated on something,” he says.
At 19, he lost his oil-field job after failing a spot drug test. It only took him six weeks to drink his way through the $6,000 he’d saved while working.
“I was drinking a half gallon of vodka a day, chasing it with Gatorade, and not eating,” Taylor says.
He landed in the hospital with alcohol poisoning and hallucinations and lapsed into a coma. When he woke up, he was still hallucinating — “I thought I was in the desert, hearing deafening explosions” — and he punched a nurse.
Upon his release from the hospital, Taylor moved in with his parents who, he says, “kept a very naïve eye on me. They figured if I was home, I was safe.”
Soon, he was back to drinking and using.
“When I was sober, I was concerned for my health,” Taylor remembers. “But when I was intoxicated, I didn’t care. I’d go on benders for weeks and end up in the hospital.”
At 20, he entered inpatient treatment but relapsed while living at a sober house.
“At rehab, you get super optimistic,” Taylor says. “I really wanted to be sober. But it didn’t last. It’s like: You need this to survive.”
He spent six months in jail after the second of two DUI convictions but began using again when he was free.
At one point, Taylor stayed sober for several months, and life was good. “I had a new car. I was working full time at a gas station about to be promoted. I loved my coworkers.”
As a “reward,” he started using painkillers again.
Eventually, Taylor hit his bottom. “I couldn’t stay sober long enough to save enough money to get out of my parents’ house,” he says. “I was basically a loser, and that finally got to me.”
Taylor confessed to his parents, who were devastated by his latest relapse but supportive of another stint at rehab.
“This time I was ready to get help,” Taylor says. During treatment, he learned healthy routines and started on Suboxone, which curbed his cravings.
Through the recovery community, he reconnected with a woman named Cassidy, whom he’d met his first time in rehab. Cassidy, also an Ideal Option patient, is now his wife.
“She completely changed my life,” says Taylor.
In sobriety, Taylor found himself again.
“Knowing what genuinely makes you happy, feeling your actual feelings instead of numbing them with drugs — I can’t really describe how much better it feels.”
Taylor remembers the joy he felt the day he took his drug test for his new job with a paper products company. “It was such a great feeling not to even worry about it.”
He feels confident in his sobriety, hopeful about his future, and proud of his transformation.
When he sees old photos of himself, he can hardly believe how badly he neglected himself. “I see dark eyes, grease, depression. I can almost smell the pictures.”
Today, Taylor’s senses are heightened, especially in the outdoors. He loves showing his son the trees, the leaves, the grass, the bugs.
“Outside smells so great,” he says. “I used to be such a shut-in — just inside doing drugs and drinking. When you’re going through addiction, you don’t notice anything besides yourself. I can’t believe I missed out on so much. Being outside is magical. It’s awesome.”