A Closer Look at the Opioid Crisis: A former addict speaks out

Derek Barnish is speaking out about his struggle with opioid addiction to help others.

After hitting rock bottom, 30-year-old Derek Barnish shared his story with us to help other families especially those with teens, to ensure that they don't travel down the same path he did.

Sober for nine months now, Barnish said he was finally ready to admit that he had a problem.

"At that point it was tell me what I have to do because I'll do anything. Because if I go back out there, I will die. That was the only thing I had left. The next thing I was going to lose was my life and I did not want to die," said Barnish.

Barnish started drinking at 13, and eventually was introduced to opioids. Barnish said he lied to his family, even stealing his mother’s valuables to support his addiction.

"I was always able to say you must have lost it or it disappeared or it broke or something like that,” said Branish. "It's about that manipulation and deception. Because as I started to come into addiction and it started to get worse and worse, I became an expert manipulator and an expert liar."

Barnish is speaking out now, in hopes of preventing people from going down a similar path. His advice to parents? Watch who your children hang out with, go through their room regularly, pay attention if their grades start slipping and trust your gut.

"One of the things my mother never did or my father never did was go through my room. But they would have found so much there."

For those looking for support click here for the Prevention Network or here for a list of treatment services.

For parents looking for how to talk to their child about drugs click here for a guide on how to do so.

New York residents who struggle, or have loved ones struggling with addiction, can call the state's toll-free 24/7 HOPEline at 1-877-846-7369 or text HOPENY (467369).

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