Greg: Alright. What’s up everyone? My name is Greg. This is Matt. This is Project Unbroken. So we’re two former heroin addicts. I’ve been clean about seven years, Matt you’re about 10 or so, off heroin. Now I used Methadone to get off heroin, Matt used Suboxone. We’ll talk about that a little bit later. But we have videos specifically how we used those to get off heroin below, you can find links there. Just it’s very important. We’ll talk about why it’s important later rather than jumping off cold turkey.
Greg: But we wanted talk about today, you know, not only are we off heroin, which some people do temporarily … but we’re both off heroin and we’re in very good places. we both have businesses, families, kids, the best shape of our life, we’re happy, so I think that’s one of the biggest things. A lot of people ask us, “How the fuck did you do it? Like, how did you get there? I can’t get through it.” A lot of people we talk to, they get off for a little bit, but they’re still unhappy with their life and because they’re unhappy with their life they’re like, “Fuck it. I’m going to use anyway.” So I think what we want to talk about today is, heroin addiction in general but also how we got off heroin, like the steps we took because there’s a lot of people, again, that get stuck in that phase. So why don’t you start this off? Like, what do you think is the first step you used to get off heroin?
Matt: Well, I think when Greg and I both … when we look back at what we did through, you know, our addiction and our recovery, the first major step was realizing that life was becoming unmanageable. And we kind of called this step friction. It’s where just the heroin, lifestyle, and everything else that you’re trying to do, whether it’s your relationships, your career, if there is any at that point, they’re really butting heads. And it just really makes life extremely difficult to get through.
Matt: Because when Greg and I first got into our heroin addiction, you know, we started with pills and then moved to heroin. For quite a while we had a lot of fun and I had no interest in quitting at any time soon. We owned a business together back then before we got into heroin and we were making good money so we were able to go out and have fun and there was no friction. But as, you know, as anybody who’s been through the ringer with heroin, you know that that point comes where shit starts being fun. I don’t know, our business basically fell apart because of our addiction. We weren’t able to focus on it and build it anymore.
Matt: So that was, you know, income started to drop. Start doing some sketchy shit to get money or stealing from loved ones, whatever. You start experiencing withdrawals. Friction kicks in and that, for me at least, it’s the first step is that realization where it’s like, “Oh shit. I might not be able to do this forever.”
Greg: And I think part of that, too, is like, “Now I want to quit.” Right? Like that makes you want to quit. ‘Cause if you don’t want to quit, you’re never going to want to quit. And just a side note for loved ones or people who are struggling with addiction, if you’re enabling someone, you’re making their addiction easy, you’re not going to cause friction, they’re not going to want to quit. ‘Cause like Matt said, both of us when we first started heroin, nothing was hard. So I remember even thinking specifically, “I’m going to just do this forever, this is awesome.” And then things start getting harder and I’m like, “Fuck this. Like I don’t even want to do this anymore.” Then of course, there’s a long transition off it.
Greg: So step number one, like Matt said, friction, where things become unmanageable and you also want to quit.
Matt: Yeah. And then …
Greg: And really quick, just I want to throw in there, we both quit without rehab. I think that’s important for people to know. We quit without rehab and we kind of did it in a somewhat nontraditional way.
Matt: Yeah, yeah, and I think we both believe that … whatever works for you, works for you so whether you do a rehab stint or if you do the 12 Step Program or you go to meetings, whatever works for you …
Matt: … is awesome, but I also think these steps that we’re going to go over can work through any of those things. Whatever your path from addiction to recovery is, Greg and I believe that these five steps are required.
Greg: Really, responsible for our success.
Matt: And not only just recovery but really living lives that we want to live.
Greg: And really, rehab, I think one of the big things it does for you is the next step.
Matt: Which is separation. And, exactly. One of the, I think, most powerful parts about going off to a rehabilitation center is you are separating yourself from your lifestyle that you’re currently living your addiction through.
Matt: Yeah, and this is, I’d say, the most important and the most difficult step for people to get through and it’s the one where people really get stuck early on and it’s because when you’re in your addiction, whoever you’re closest with is also in the addition. Greg and I, we’re best friends for over a decade, when we really found ourselves in the depths of our heroin addiction and I came to the realization a little bit before Greg did that neither one of us are ever going to get away from this if we continue being friends like we are now. We had to go our separate ways unfortunately for a long time. What was it, five years?
Greg: Five years.
Matt: We didn’t even talk. And this is after being best friends for early on in high school through our early 20s but I think I realized the step one, friction, hitting me first and then naturally I knew the separation was next.
Greg: And it was necessary because at that point I was a little mad at Matt. I was like, “Fuck him”, in a way but life went on. I kept using, and I had someone around me that actually ended up living with me and there was a time where I was really at the end where finally friction hit me where I’m like, “All right, this is got to be it” and I separated myself from that person and guess what started happening … I stopped using. I started getting on that path to a happy, successful life. Separation is probably … without separating yourself, I would say almost 100% you’re not going to quit.
Matt: Yeah, because it’s just going to … when you’re trying to quit, obviously life is going to throw challenges your way, obstacles your way, stress and when you come on those stressful situations, if I knew right now … Greg’s like, “Well, I got that on me” and I’m going through a really tough time and I’m early on in my recovery … the willpower, it’s almost not even your fault. It’s just the willpower is so overwhelming or the attraction is so overwhelming, your willpower is just … rarely is it strong enough to be able to deal with that. You have to put some distance between you and everybody that you know that uses. And, again, that can be family members, that can be significant others, boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, wives. It can be your parents, siblings, but it doesn’t matter. If that person’s in your life, the chances of you getting to the next step in your recovery are, I’d say, slim to none.
Greg: And I mentioned that we both used maintenance programs in the beginning of this video. I used Methadone, Matt used Suboxone. One of the reasons I think that’s so important, we’re such big advocates of maintenance programs is that it helps with the separation. It enables you to live your life and start getting away from those people for a while. I was on Methadone for a few years, Matt was on Suboxone a couple of years. So there was a couple of years there where he was able to live his life normally. Yeah, he was on Suboxone, yeah I was on Methadone but we weren’t using and able to start building new relationships, getting away from those people and getting used to a life away from that. Whereas if we just tried to quit cold turkey, even to get out of the … you get through the initial withdrawal, you’re a week or two in, you’re likely still around the same people.
Greg: And even if you stay clean for a month, two months eventually those same people are going to drag you back in so a maintenance program allows you to comfortably separate yourself and then you can take it from there.
Matt: Absolutely because I know with my … I did a Suboxone program with a physician and a psychiatrist, they teamed up together and the three of us came up with an awesome blueprint for me to get out of my addiction with basically no withdrawals and that allowed me to not have to worry about finding Suboxone or finding heroin or not being sick. It just completely took that off the plate and I was able to separate myself in a really pain-free way. I shouldn’t say pain-free, it sucks having to cut those ties. I’m not making light of that.
Greg: You’re talking about physically, more the … you’re not physically having the withdrawals and shit like that?
Greg: And again, both stories, Matt’s story on Suboxone, how he did it, his whole timeline, my full time on Methadone, I’ll put below so you can check those out as well because it’s very important.
Matt: And then the next step after that when you kind of separate yourself and you start to be okay with it, and that does take a little bit of time, you have to make those cuts, but the next step is what we call attraction. And this is where you start putting yourself in social circles or situations that you find attractive. For me, I really wanted to gravitate towards things that made me healthy. This was, at first, because even when I was through my Suboxone program, I was still smoking cigarettes, I wasn’t eating well, and I started to do some research on how to improve my mood or just the way that I felt and exercise kept popping up or eating healthy kept popping up.
Matt: I really wanted to try to utilize as much of that stuff as I could just to boost endorphins and serotonin and dopamine levels, just to make my head feel better because you’re different. You’re going from flooding your dopamine receptors with heroin to basically being at a deficit with that kind of stuff and I didn’t want to have any crutch anymore, any substance, chemical substance that would make me feel that way but I knew that eating better or treating my body better would help me out. So I started to try to put myself in situations where I’m around people that are healthy and they know more about exercise, whatever, it could be different for everybody, it doesn’t have to be exercise. It could be something that could have meditative qualities, an art class or yoga, whatever it is but you’re putting yourself in a whole new circumstance where people just have a different set of goals that are just more positive.
Greg: I think a testament to how powerful that is and we both believe, although it doesn’t have to be exercise, I think we both are really behind exercise. We think everyone should try it. Just a testament to how powerful that is, you started your own fucking gym.
Greg: I mean, you started working out. You’re like, “Oh my God, this is helping so much, I want to help other people do this.” You started your own gym and, for me, really when I was coming off Methadone, that was my attraction. When I started that attraction phase, I got … Matt called me up. He’s like, “Hey, I heard you’re doing well. Come in my gym.” That’s when we started reconnecting and that’s where I really took off. I started attracting new people, meeting positive people, doing positive things, changing the way my mind worked and that’s where things took off for me. I think that’s a testament to how powerful it is to start trying exercise or at least some kind of positive activity.
Matt: Absolutely and it can be anything. I know guys and girls, they ride bikes together and shit. Whatever it is, I think the combination of being around other people headed in a positive direction, with some sort of physical activity, just to get your body moving and to get those good juices in your brain flowing … that’s a huge part.
Greg: Not to mention it keeps you from using. We talked about this before like, if I brought up using heroin, Matt would be like “Dude, get the fuck out of here, what are you thinking.” Anyone, and we’re in the gym right now, if I were offering heroin to anyone in here, they’d be like, “Dude, fucking kick rocks. Get out of here.” Not only if you worked to get there and you feel good and you don’t want to use, but you know in the back of your head, that even if that came up, no one around you wants that shit around them. So I think that’s big as well.
Matt: Yeah, and that kind of leads into the next step which is integration. So, now you did the separation thing, you got rid of the people that were kind of dragging you down and holding you back when you realized that you need to move forward and then you kind of find what you want to do, how you want to improve your life and you’re going to start running into people that you are going to integrate with on a day to day basis and more than likely if you’re doing something, again, like we mentioned before, in a positive, healthy atmosphere, those people are not going to have any idea of what the heroin thing is. And when you integrate yourself with a group of people like that, it just doesn’t become a topic of conversation … ever. Like you just stop thinking about heroin. I mean, besides us doing this podcast, we never talk about drugs or anything like that.
Matt: It’s like, “What’s your diet like? What’s your exercise like? What are you doing today for working out?” And it’s like that for everybody that we surround ourselves with. It’s just very healthy, positive people.
Greg: That’s a good point because I think a lot of people, especially people who comment on our videos, are like “I still feen for it, I still want it.” I think they’re kind of missing some of these steps, maybe they missed attraction or they missed the integration or they missed the next step and it’s really important you get each of these steps or they might start feening because … I’ll tell you, I haven’t feened for heroin … I don’t remember when the last time I wanted heroin, I don’t want nothing to do with heroin. I don’t want it at all.
Greg: You know what I mean?
Matt: I think when you get to this step it’s very clear to see how much using once would fuck everything up. Everything that you’ve built up to this point, you know how quickly it can be destroyed with using literally just one time. And let me back up just a little bit and make it very clear, I know we’re kind of running through these steps … friction, honestly, is probably the easiest one because you can’t control it. You just start to understand, like shit, my life’s becoming really difficult to manage. After that though, separation … super difficult, you got to get rid of loved ones, family members, you’re cutting ties with relationships. Not an easy thing to do.
Matt: Attraction … it’s not easy because you’re going to feel … you might not have a really high level of confidence at this point in your life and to be able to put yourself into a situation with people who are exercising or they seem really happy or they’re living positive lifestyles … I understand 100% that it’s not easy but I know a big term in the recovery community is fake it ’til you make it. You got to do it, just throw yourself into it. You’d be really surprised at how welcoming these communities can be. Whether it’s a gym or, again, our studio, if you want to go back to school, people, in general, are pretty cool.
Greg: I think people that are drug addicts are used to negativity …
Matt: Yeah, yeah.
Greg: … and they think that’s what they’re going to get.
Matt: People try to fuck me over.
Matt: Most people are not like that. So you got to take a leap of faith, throw yourself out there and you will be pleasantly surprised at how welcoming most communities that aren’t dealing with addiction can be.
Greg: And it’s important for you to know as an addict that you’re going to get to a phase where you don’t even want the heroin, the cravings will not last. You will get to appoint where it’s not even a thought.
Matt: Absolutely. But back to that integration step, now when stuff starts to get a lot easier. Your day to day habits start to change, you start to look forward to doing stuff that makes you feel better. You start seeing the benefits of all these positive changes in your life. So for me, for instance, I started noticing … my bank account started looking better, I started to be able to focus more on plans for opening my first business which was the gym. My relationships started to improve, I started to really enjoy spending time with my family and stuff because they’re not … I just had more confidence overall. I just felt so much better about myself and all the good shit started stacking on top of each other. I really am a big believer, Greg and I both are big believers in momentum and positive or negative, when you’re in your addiction, I’m sure a lot of guys can relate … and it’s like one thing after the next. You’re fucked, you got no money, you get a flat tire, you get a DUI or you get arrested, it’s just like, oh my God, this shit’s piling up on me.
Matt: It’s the same thing when you’re making positive steps, every step in the right direction you make, shit just gets better and better and better, faster and faster. And then elevation. I mean that’s the fifth step and that’s … I think, you know Greg and I both have places we want to go and things that we want to do with our lives that we haven’t even started to look at, I’m sure but we’re at a point now where it’s people … We could help people because of what we learned through our journey. And that … you know, you’re around other people that are making bigger plans and you just start to improve your entire atmosphere. It’s literally the complete opposite side of the spectrum from where you started.
Matt: It may take a little while if you, again, if you’re just taking those steps, you’ll find yourself in a situation where you’re really able to make some positive improvements in your surroundings.
Greg: It’s crazy. l I think a lot of people look at us … One of the reasons we started Project Unbroken … They’re like, “You guys used heroin? Are you fucking serious? I would have never thought.” I look at us like that.
Greg: I can’t believe I did it. I think it’s just so important for addicts to understand that not only can you get through it but you can fucking stomp it in the head. You kind of got to look at it almost like “I can do this.” I think so many people tell heroin addicts your chances of quitting are just so low …
Matt: Or if you do quit, you’re going to be an addict for the rest of your life, you’re going to be thinking about heroin every day, you’re going to be like … I remember thinking about I don’t want to be that old dude in a meeting, smoking cigarettes, drinking coffee and just being like, “Well, everything kind of sucks.” Because that’s what I would hear from people who would quit, one day at a time. It’s not like that for us.
Greg: Really, look if you’re someone that maybe sees yourself like that, and you’re happy with that, I think that’s cool. I think the point is that your recovery can really be whatever you want. I don’t think a lot of people really, truly believe that but I think we’re a testament to that. I pretty much live the exact life I want to live. I do what the fuck I want, when the fuck I want because I work for it. I have my own business allows me … I have an internet business which allows me to work at Starbucks and kind of work on my own time, come in the gym when I want. I make good money but I fucking put in the work. I had the vision and the whole way I worked my way through it. You know, I put in the time, I put in the effort so I think it’s important you know it doesn’t matter if you’re a heroin addict now, you can be whatever you want to be as long as you follow these steps and work your way towards whatever you’re trying to be.
Matt: Yeah, and just make the difficult decisions early. I mean it’s like ripping a band aid, it’s going to hurt but you will be so surprised at what’s on the other side of that. Ten years has flown by so quickly and now I look at Greg and myself, we’re both business owners, we’re both married with kids. I’m happy for Greg, I’m happy for myself and I didn’t think that any of this stuff was possible but when we kind of looked back and saw the steps that we took to get to where we are now, I mean it’s completely reasonable that anybody out there who’s struggling with maybe that friction phase or realizing like, “Damn, I need to get myself out of that situation or this situation”, just realize there is literally a pot of gold on the other side. You just got to move through the steps, put the blinders on because there’s going to be a lot of bullshit going on around you and just do your thing. You can have a really great life on the other side of this.
Greg: Hopefully this helps you guys because we’re not just talking about heroin like from a third perspective or second perspective. This is a first person perspective. We went through it, we made these changes. These are the steps we made and the cool thing is, we actually made … we each did these steps separately and then when we reconnected, we were talking about this and we were like, “Fuck, we did the same thing pretty much.” You know what I mean? Maybe in a little different way but we pretty much each took these steps just in different phases.
Matt: Absolutely. It can work for anyone. Again, no matter how you want to approach your recovery, whether it’s through rehab or like a 12-step thing, or whatever it is if you keep those same basic five steps in place, just big picture steps, you’ll be fine. You’ll get through it and come out strong as shit on the other side.
Greg: Yeah, so that’s kind of some in detail of how we got off heroin and what we thought about heroin addiction. If you have any questions at all, let us know. We’ve been known to do videos specifically on the questions people ask us. We’re in this for the long run, we’re going to keep shooting these videos so hopefully y’all enjoyed and do you have anything else to add?
Matt: No. I think that’s it.
Greg: Cool, see you guys soon.