One of the scariest things about addiction is that none of us are protected against it. A dependence on a substance that seemingly takes all the pain and discomfort away is a terrifying reality for millions of people worldwide. The stigma that follows it doesn’t make it easier to get out of the loop of repetition.

But once that loop ends and the craving diminishes, one can start to take back the reins on one’s life. Of course, there may be some rough patches in the journey, but it’s one that needs to be taken and never concluded. Today we celebrate Kory Aronson’s 9 years of sobriety, as his wife Megan posted a wholesome message on Twitter, hitting many right in the feels.

Megan has very kindly shared their story with Bored Panda so let’s get into it!

More info: Twitter

Megan Aronson was approached by her 15-year-old daughter one evening, asking whether they’d be doing anything special for her dad’s sobriety anniversary

Image credits: MeganAronson

’Twas the night before a very special occasion for Megan and Kory Aronson, one that not many people get to commemorate.

Their 15-year-old daughter, fearful that the pair may have forgotten about it, went up to her mother and asked: “Mom, are you guys doing anything uh, celebratory tomorrow? Because I kind of think you should. You should celebrate.” It surprised Megan. She didn’t think her daughter would remember such a date, but she did. An anniversary, but not just any anniversary—9 years since her dad beat his opioid addiction and reclaimed his life.

“We’ve always been open and honest with our children about Kory’s recovery because we believe it was a warrior’s battle he faced, and we honor the courage and strength it took him to recover,” Megan told Bored Panda. “But it caught me off guard when my daughter brought it up the night before Kory’s anniversary because I realized she understands how hard we both fought to get here.” 

The day would mark 9 years since Kory took the path of recovery from an opioid addiction that nearly ended his marriage and his life

Image credits: meganaronson777

It moved Megan to tears, both gratitude and love for her family filling her heart. “I’m grateful she understands that we are some of the few lucky ones who have survived this overdose crisis that claimed 108,000 lives last year. We don’t take that for granted. We are grateful every day, and it does deserve celebrating.”

She decided to share the moment with her 23.7k followers on Twitter, saying, “She gets it.” The girl decided to mark the special occasion by baking a little treat for her family—a brownie in a cup with a Hershey’s kiss on top. It looked absolutely luscious, her mom posting the picture in the Twitter thread, saying: “One small way to celebrate 9 years of [her dad’s] sobriety today. I am so lucky.”

The short Twitter thread seemed to unite many who’ve either dealt with addiction, have known someone in that position, or have been battling it for varied amounts of time. “So nice to hear. My son is in his 4th stint in rehab now. Went to the worst section in Philly and OD’ed. 4narcan and CPR. Just shy of a year clean and boom!!! I would love to celebrate a year,” said one.

“AWESOME! Way to go! I suffered from opioid addiction after multiple surgeries and I personally know how tough it is to walk away from the lies that opioids tell us. Your hubby is a strong-willed person. December 20th will be 4 years for myself,” shared another. “Every day of recovery and having your family back is a day of celebration… Congratulations to you both!”

Image credits: meganaronson777

Megan and Kory’s relationship began in a Karaoke bar in the Red Rocks of Sedona, AZ. They were introduced by a mutual friend and it was love at first sight. “I drove him home afterwards, then he walked me down to a Red Rock beach on Oak Creek and kissed me for the first time under the sycamore trees,” she recalled.

Sadly, less than two months later, Kory injured his back helping his grandmother with a home repair and herniated three discs in his back. This was the beginning of a slow decline into opioid addiction, affecting both Kory and Megan.

“Throughout these tumultuous years, Kory was still my loving, generous, thoughtful soulmate, but he was also lying to me constantly,” Megan recalled. “For years, it was a sick cycle of confronting him with failed interventions, then denying the truth of his addiction. When I did attempt interventions, he’d promise he’d change, then slip back into his old behaviors unknowingly to me. Addiction is a cunning and baffling disease, and because I loved and trusted this man, I wanted to believe he’d changed each time.”

“I began to trust my inner voice again after years of Kory’s gaslighting. Eventually, that gave me the strength to face the truth of his addiction and ask him to leave.” She started filing for divorce.

The question hit Megan right in the feels, realizing how much this milestone meant for their whole family

Image credits: MeganAronson

It seemed Kory wanted to take the last chance at saving his life and submitted himself to a rehab facility, which led Megan to halt the divorce proceedings. “When he graduated rehab, he came out fighting for our love and won my heart back all over again,” she said.

The path was full of ups and downs, the battle a difficult one to beat, but, thankfully, Kory persevered and his wife couldn’t be more proud of him. In an Instagram post she added a picture of the rehab facility, stating in the caption: “This is where my husband fought for his life—in this very room.”

“This is where he put himself back together for us after an opioid addiction tried to steal his life. This is where I stood—on that stage—one year after I kicked him out, one year after I nearly divorced him, and I said, ‘LOOK. We did it. You can, too.’”

“Kory had hope & faith… and it got him back to us against all odds. He is A MIRACLE. And I am reminded of that every day because those mugs on the wall tied with black ribbons represent all the people who lost their fight. Happy endings are always possible. I want you to know that,” she continued.

9 years later their relationship is stronger than ever.

Image credits: meganaronson777

For anyone in a similar situation, Megan has some advice. “Get support immediately. I wish I hadn’t walked the road alone for so long and had reached out for support.”

“Al-Anon saved my life when I finally went to my first meeting after Kory got sober. There were years of recovery for me, just as there were for Kory. It’d become my coping mechanisms trying to find a way to control his addiction. When I realized I was powerless over addiction and that the real Kory was still hiding under this disease, it changed everything.”

“My advice to others going through this is seek out people who’ve walked this road before you and let them walk with you every step of the way. I’ve met some of the happiest people in meeting rooms for families of alcoholics and addicts. It’s possible to find inner peace even while living with someone’s addiction. I know that now.” 

My other piece of advice would be to put the focus back on you, to realize you didn’t cause the addiction, you can’t cure it, and you can’t control it. When we engage in a never-ending battle with the addict, we make ourselves crazy and enable their addiction, like a game of tug of war,” she continued. 

The daughter decided to mark the occasion in her own way as well by baking some brownies for the family with Hershey’s kisses on top

Image credits: MeganAronson

As hopeful and inspiring their story is, I think it’s important to look at opioid addiction as a whole and the epidemic surrounding it. According to MayoClinic, addiction is a condition in which something that started as pleasurable now feels like something you can’t live without.

Opioids are highly addictive, in large part because they activate powerful reward centers in your brain. Opioids trigger the release of endorphins, your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, muffling your perception of pain and boosting feelings of pleasure, creating a temporary but powerful sense of well-being.

When an opioid dose wears off, one may find themselves wanting those good feelings back as soon as possible. This is the first milestone on the path toward potential addiction, as the repeated use of opioids lowers the body’s tolerance, requiring a more potent dose to evoke the same level of euphoria.

Megan shared the story on Twitter, receiving hundreds of messages from people who’d experienced addiction themselves

Image credits: meganaronson777

Historically, a dependence on drugs has been viewed as immoral or the result of a lack of self-control, yet the situation with opioids is far more tragic as a lot of the time people become dependent on them after their medical professional prescribes them as pain relief.

Commonly prescribed opioids include oxycodone, fentanyl, buprenorphine, methadone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone, codeine, and morphine. Some other opioids, such as heroin, are illegal.

Opioids are safest when used for three or fewer days to manage acute pain, such as pain that follows surgery or a bone fracture. If you’re living with chronic pain, opioids are not likely to be a safe and effective long-term treatment option. Because doctors are acutely aware of opioid risks, it’s often difficult to get your doctor to increase your dose or even renew your prescription, leading to many people finding other sources of the drug.

Their journey had not been an easy one: “9 years ago I was standing in line at a food bank. My husband had just stolen all our [money]. I thought it was over”

Image credits: MeganAronson

According to the CDC, the number of drug overdose deaths increased by nearly 30% from 2019 to 2020 and has quintupled since 1999. Nearly 75% of the 91,799 drug overdose deaths in 2020 involved an opioid. So why is it that people avoid seeking treatment?

Yngvild Olsen and Joshua Sharfstein argue that the understanding of opioid use disorder as a medical illness is still overshadowed by its misconception as a ‘moral weakness’ or a ‘willful choice.’ In simpler terms, many still believe that recovery depends solely on the willpower to abstain from all opioids. Viewing this as a character weakness deepens the stigma surrounding recovery, leading less people to try and seek out said treatment.

Furthermore, the language used to label and describe opioid use perpetuates the stigma, as the terms often come across as judgmental or derogatory. Urine test results are called “clean” or “dirty” rather than “positive,” “expected,” “negative,” or “unexpected.” Patients with opioid use disorder are referred to as “clean” when they are in recovery and are referred to as “dirty” if they are still demonstrating symptoms.

“But then… He went to rehab and won me back,” she wrote in a Twitter post. “Kory had hope & faith… and it got him back to us against all odds”

Image credits: meganaronson777

Marta Elliott of the University of Nevada, Reno, argues that there is an opportunity to reduce stigma by targeting beliefs about the cause of addiction. Increasing education and public awareness about the external causes of addiction such as the role of the pharmaceutical industry, the addictive properties of opioids, and challenging life circumstances might help decrease people’s tendency to attribute opioid addiction to people’s character.

As stated on the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, incorporating solutions rather than focusing on problems, as well as emphasizing the fact that effective treatment exists, are surefire ways of diminishing the stigma surrounding opioid addiction.

This may help solve the issue of people confusing common opioid treatment medications, methadone and buprenorphine, as replacing one addiction with another. These medications can help normalize brain chemistry, relieve cravings, and in some cases, prevent withdrawal symptoms, thereby supporting a person’s recovery.

Opioid addiction is still seen as a ‘moral weakness’ or a ‘willful choice,’ with many wrongly believing that recovery depends on willpower alone

Image credits: meganaronson777

SAMHSA details the tips that can help you or your loved one avoid an opioid overdose. Take medicine as prescribed and do not take more medication or take it more often than instructed. Never mix pain medicines with alcohol, sleeping pills, or illicit substances.

The CDC states that if you notice someone going limp, their pupils pin-point sized, their breathing and heartbeat slowing, their skin turning pale and clammy to the touch, and if they start vomiting or making a gurgling sound, or struggling to stay awake and speak, they may have overdosed and are in need of immediate medical help.

Call 911 or your respective helpline number immediately. Try to keep the person awake and breathing, and perform CPR if necessary. Lay the person on their side to prevent choking and stay with them until emergency workers arrive.

However, that just fuels the stigma and delays treatment. We must recognize that no one is safe from addiction and we all play a role in tackling the opioid epidemic

Image credits: meganaronson777

I asked Megan what she would tell her younger self from 9 years ago, and this is her message: “Believe it or not, this horrible experience is going to lead to a life beyond your wildest dreams. One day, you’re going to write a book sharing your story of love and forgiveness to spread hope to others fighting this disease. You’re going to be given a beautiful, sober husband, and you’re going to spend the rest of your life feeling grateful for the unconditional love formed between you–not in spite of addiction, but because of it.”

Megan is now working as a National Recovery Advocate and will soon be publishing a memoir sharing their story, currently titled 47 Chances. For anyone interested in reading their full story and storing up on hope for the better, I will leave the link to the website here, so that you can follow the updates.

Megan hopes that their story encourages and instills hope in all those battling addiction and marching towards recovery. We wish them all the best!

Image credits: meganaronson777

We wish Megan, Kory, and their family all the best and hope that their story continues to bring feelings of hope to others. There is a bright future ahead as long as one puts in the work to regain their power and is forgiving of their slips and falls on the way to recovery.

The most important step you can take to prevent opioid addiction is to recognize that no one is safe, and we all play a role in tackling the grip these drugs currently hold on our loved ones and communities. Here are some resources if you’re interested in checking them out, and I wish you a great day!

People have shared their experiences and sent love to the family. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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