OPIOID CRISIS: Recovering addict says his own research helped him get clean
Erik Mann is from Summerville, GA.; his addiction to opioids started in his teens.
"My main thing was prescription pills and I would get them anyway I could," said Mann.
He would even get them at his place of work.
"I used to work in the prison down here as a correctional officer and started buying pills from other people that I worked with, other guards," said Mann.
He eventually served time in prison for credit card fraud. He said his troubles began when he started using opioids, and his need for the drugs was stronger than the need to stay out of trouble.
"I mean to be honest the legal punishments didn't really deter me," said Mann. "When you're an addict you don't care about that."
Mann said it wasn't tough to get pills, 90% of the pills he got came from the emergency room.
"I was very rarely unsuccessful going to an ER, I almost always got what I wanted," said Mann. "I actually got pretty good at simulating symptoms."
He would fake kidney stones, he ripped his fingernails out with pliers, and even scarred himself permanently.
"I poured drain cleaner on it and then I would scrub it in with a toothbrush, you get a really bad chemical burn, you go to the ER and they give you a prescription," said Mann.
Mann made multiple attempts at getting clean.
"The state run rehab, I got sent to a program called RSET in Rock Springs for six months, it was basically a boot camp run by the state in a prison, and it took my 20 minutes to relapse after I got out of that program," said Mann.
He said it was his own research that lead him to recovery.
"The very final thing that I tried is actually what worked and that is methadone," said Mann.
Methadone is prescribed by a doctor to help addicts reduce or quit their dependence on drugs. Mann spends over $4,000 a year on treatment.
"Within two years of going to that clinic, I was working, I bought a new car, I've got my own house., I got married," said Mann.
He wants people that addiction is more than just a habit.
"Addiction is a medical problem it's not spiritual, it's not moral, it's a chemical imbalance in the brain and it needs to be treated medically," said Mann.