Las Vegas man shares journey on National Opioid Awareness Day

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) – On National Opioid Awareness Day, one Las Vegas man is sharing his journey from addiction to recovery. As opioid addiction continues to claim lives in Las Vegas and throughout the US, September 21st is a day designated to support removing the stigma associated with opioid addiction and open lines of communication.

At Desert Hope, a drug and alcohol rehab and detox facility in East Las Vegas, Scott Hunter shared the story of how he beat his addiction.

“It is like playing Russian roulette. You only get so many chances. I have known friends of mine that one of their first times using, they died.” It was a risk Hunter took many times starting as a teen in small-town Ohio.

“It started off with OxyContin. My mom was prescribed OxyContin. I started stealing them from her at a young age and I would take them every single day. I was about 15 when I started with that. Around 17, she was starting to catch on that they were missing, and they became harder to get and where I am from the heroin is very bad there, there are tons of it and that was just the next logical choice,” Hunter explained.

Eventually, heroin wasn’t enough. His goal was to get fentanyl.

“I knew a lady that was dying of cancer and I would buy her patches off her… It was one of the few things that I would rather do than heroin because I didn’t have to do as much, my tolerance was so high with the OxyContin and heroin that one patch of fentanyl would last me a couple of days,” Hunter recalled. Fentanyl was the strongest drug he could find.

“It was very scary to use it because it would give you different effects like you could feel yourself not breathing, you could feel your chest tighten up.” When Hunter was using fentanyl was rare, today it is everywhere in America.

“The way things are now with the fentanyl-like they put it in everything… To me, there would be no doubt in my mind that I would have died,” Hunter confessed.

Hunter was in and out of rehab and jail until his mom hatched a plan upon his release from prison.

“While I was in there, my mom had set it up for me to go to treatment. The day I got released, there is an interventionist waiting for me,” Hunter described. The interventionist took him to Vegas where he did get sober, getting away from old drug sources and finding a new community to support him, even getting a job on the Strip as a cook.

“After a year and a half sober, relapsed for about 10 months and then I found out I was going to be a dad,” Hunter recounted.

That changed everything. Hunter has been drug-free ever since.

“I always say my son saved my life and I will always be grateful for that,” Hunter stated.

Now, as the Kitchen Supervisor at Desert Hope, Hunter is helping others win their battle against addiction.

“Seeing people coming back to life while they are here, seeing them enjoying life again, I remember that exact feeling,” Hunter said.

Hunter argues no matter how bad it seems, there is always hope for recovery. If you have a family member who is struggling, your help could make a difference.

“If my mom didn’t step in and help, I probably would be dead by now… I am very, very grateful,” Hunter shared. Hunter believes the more education and conversation about opioid addiction the better.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid. According to the CDC, in 2020, more than 56,000 people in the US died from a synthetic opioid overdose.

Deaths involving opioids increased over 56% from 2019 to 2020 and have continued to climb.

Leave a Comment