By Aaron Emerson
Jay Stauffer lives in Grand Rapids, but if you saw him walking around Michigan’s second largest city, you probably wouldn’t know he’s been in recovery from heroin and prescription drug addiction. 14 months of recovery, to be exact.
It’s been a long journey to get there, though, and Jay will be the first to tell you it’s still a one-day-at-a-time battle for him.
It all started for Jay when he was a sophomore in high school. Dealing with a mentally abusive step-father, he decided to try smoking marijuana, but didn’t like it and didn’t try it again. Not much time passed, however, when he had to get some teeth pulled and was prescribed Vicodin. Unfortunately, he fell in love with the pleasurable feeling and escape the painkilling opioid pills gave him.
At age 21, Jay had a son with his girlfriend he was in love with, but two years later he had to move back in with his parents after finding out she was cheating on him. The break-up of four years devastated him and left him vulnerable, which showed when he was pressured to try cocaine at a party. He got hooked on the cocaine and drifted deeper into a life of addiction.
He started stealing from his family and pawning anything that was worth money, and the cocaine addiction lasted eight years. That’s when he tried what many addicts do to get clean: move far away from his surroundings to get out of the life he was living. He moved to Hollywood, California with his brother, but he soon found out the place he moved was a complex filled with young party kids.
He eventually moved back to Michigan with his Dad, who was taking heavy-duty prescription pills. Jay started taking Fentynal patches, and one day when he was out of his patches going through withdrawal, a friend hooked him up with one of the deadliest drugs known to man: heroin. He got immediately addicted and blew all of his money, finding himself in an even deeper predicament.
He eventually moved back in with his mom and step-dad, and one night when he was going through withdrawal, he came across his step-dad’s checkbook. You probably know what happened next. Yes, he stole four checks, and when his mom found out their bank account was overdrawn, she called the police. When Jay went to cash the final check, the bank-teller alerted the police and Jay was arrested blocks away from the bank, charged with cashing stolen checks and stealing his parents’ car.
Jay ended up serving two years in prison for the crimes, but he turned his life around. He has had some set-backs, but he’s been sober for 14 months now. He goes to anger management classes, and his son, who is now 14, is a big part of his life and recovery, helping him stay in check in his one-day-at-at-time battle with addiction. Just for today, Jay is clean and living proof that recovery is possible, even for the ones who seemed too far gone to change. Jay is a walking miracle.