This year, summertime will take on an extra special meaning for Michael Morris. Last year Michael was battling opioid addiction while attending sessions conducted by the Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) program at the Community Renewal Team (CRT) in Hartford. Michael’s personal commitment and his willingness to confront his addiction head-on as he began the path to recovery would be different this time. It was a close call, however.
Michael, age 65, entered into the program in May of 2019, but was privately still using drugs and not ready to disclose this fact to the people who were trying to help him. While beginning Suboxone treatment to address his opioid addiction, he had a severe reaction to the medication. He became very sick and experienced withdrawal symptoms. Fortunately, the team at CRT recognized what was happening and were able to get Michael to the hospital in time to save his life. Michael spent four days in a local hospital, and thankfully he was able to make a full recovery.
He has been taking Suboxone for more than one year now (since May 29, 2019), and he is clean and sober.
Michael will be the first to admit that in the past he may have undermined his own recovery efforts. For instance, he might stop using drugs, but he would keep drinking alcohol. Now, he says that he has no plan to go back to using drugs or alcohol and lives a life of recovery.
“I realized this dope is killing me,” Michael said. “But I have not had any urges since May 29 of last year – no alcohol, wine or whiskey, nothing. I’ve been clean before, but I was still drinking, but now I have total sobriety.”
Michael grew up in Hartford, and he admits that he started using drugs at an early age. He was only 13 years old when the drug use began. As he said, “It was part of the thing to do growing up.”
Because of that drug use, he was in and out of prison for most of his life. He actually met his wife June when he was a teenager; and he was officially the second person in the state of Connecticut to be married while in prison. They were married back in 1977 and he is still married to June to this day.
Over the years they had seven children. One son was shot and killed during an attempted robbery back in 2005.
Today Michael lives in Bloomfield, and in addition to his wife and grown children, he has 23 grandchildren, and he is extremely proud of each and every one of them. His oldest granddaughter is 21 and she is training in the Air Force. Another granddaughter is currently a sophomore at Virginia State College.
Michael continues to work with CRT every week for counseling and to continue his treatment with the MAT program.
“When I first started, I felt I was forced to do it,” Michael said. “But once I was in the group, and realized where my life was at, I realized I was tired of the life I was living, tired of being high. Being in the meetings, and seeing people’s lives change made a real difference. The program with CRT saved my life.”
Michael is well known on the streets of Hartford, and recently he has been volunteering time with a local community organization passing out food to people in need and talking to people he meets, making sure they are safe.
“Being engaged helping people helps me, too,” Michael said. “I talk to a lot of guys, talk to them about going into a program.”
His advice today?
“Get around someone living the life you want to live,” he said. “They have advice to give, and are willing to give it. Talking to people helps me – I don’t want to let them down – it really motivates me to do more!”
Michael is extremely proud of the changes he has been able to make in his own life. Now he’s ready to give back to others who need that help, too.