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Jerrell’s Story

My name is Jerrell. I attended West Virginia University, where I participated in the ROTC and track and field. I studied mechanical engineering and military science. My life was pretty normal until I reached my 30s. That’s when my struggle with addiction began, the result of a motorcycle accident. I was out riding with some of my buddies, and we were cut off by a tractor-trailer. I was able to swerve, but I injured my hand. I must have been in shock because it wasn’t until I got home that I realized my hand was bleeding. (I was wearing riding gloves.)

I went to the ER and found out that I had a compound fracture and other hand injuries. The doctors tried everything to save my left pointer finger, but they couldn’t. I was prescribed Percocet, and that’s how my opiate addiction began.

When my doctor moved out of the area, I turned to fentanyl to manage my pain. It was cheaper and easier to get than prescription medication. I didn’t like the way it made me feel – sleepy, sluggish, unmotivated – so I mixed it with methamphetamines to feel more awake. Eventually, though, I got caught with a substantial amount of drugs on me. I went to jail, but the judge released me on probation because it was my first offense. I continued to get high for years on the mix of fentanyl and methamphetamines. I was eventually caught again and sent back to jail. Probation recommended that I be released to a recovery house, but I knew I would not be able to get clean without help. So, I requested to be released to a rehab facility so I could learn ways to cope with life without substances.  This is when Penn Foundation came into my life.

A Penn Foundation staff member picked me up. I remember him talking to me like a human being instead of a criminal and drug addict. I completed three months of inpatient treatment at Penn Foundation. The staff were incredible. They made sure I was comfortable, and I was overwhelmed by how compassionate and understanding they were. The Penn Foundation staff genuinely cared about me. My counselors taught me that there really is a better way of living than masking pain with substances.

I was also connected with a Certified Recovery Specialist who took me under his wing. We had real conversations that allowed me to trust him and trust the program. He went above-and-beyond for me; in fact, he made such an impact on my early recovery that it made me want to stick with it.

Thanks to Penn Foundation, I’m now living a life in recovery. I attend support group meetings. I have a job working in behavioral health. I participate in Penn Foundation’s Recovery is for Everyone Walk and participate in the Alumni Fellowship. I give back in ways I never thought I could. I hope to one day inspire other individuals like I was inspired at Penn Foundation.