‘It was just an accident:’ Man battling opioid addiction details how it all began and his search for help

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Methadone, Oxycodone and Hydrocodone are the most common drugs behind prescription opioid deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Although most people are familiar with the names of those drugs, the names of their victims are often unknown or dismissed. Josh Nunnelley, 34, sat down with CBS 42’s Ariana Garza to recount his struggle with opioid addiction and his journey to get help.

Nunnelly said his battle began when he was 17 after he was prescribed a strong version of hydrocodone.

“I had never used any alcohol or any other drugs and it was just on accident, you know,” Nunnelly said. “It wasn’t a peer pressure type situation, it was something that happened with an injury.”

The controlled substance would control his life for 17 years, despite numerous attempts to quit.

“I was really good at tricking doctors into giving me what I wanted,” Nunnelly said. “Sometimes I would go into the emergency room and just fake — put on this big Oscar award-winning performance to fake an injury just to — just because I was running from withdrawals.”

His parents eventually connected him to The Foundry in Bessemer after friends at the Church of the Highlands recommended the program.

According to Jacky Gann, the men’s program director, The Foundry runs a faith-based, Christ-centered program that provides structure and healing.

“We allow them to come in, let the clouds kind of lift from their thought process and we provide an opportunity for them to have a safe environment to make small choices to become the person that they are and re-develop their life and re-define their process,” Gann said.

Brandon Lackey with The Foundry Ministries serves on Governor Kay Ivey’s opioid and overdose task force. The group is made up of representatives from different backgrounds, including law enforcement and non-profits. He told CBS 42 that opioids are a public health crisis in Alabama and there is no simple answer to ending it.

“There are a lot of committed, very talented individuals working toward a solution,” Lackey said. “However, it really is going to take just as a diverse group of people who have struggled with this to make a significant impact.”

As for Nunnelley, whose been through many programs on his journey to end his addiction, he told CBS 42 he is optimistic that he has finally found his answer in The Foundry.

“[Opioid addiction] kind of hollows out a hole inside of you and, you know, thank God that my parents pushed me to come here because it is slowly being filled back up,” Nunnelley said.

He recommends friends and family employ tough love to help those battling addiction.

The Foundry also has a women’s center. For more information on the organization’s recovery programs, click here.

For a list of Birmingham area rehab centers, click here. For a list of free rehab centers in the Birmingham area, click here.


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