After Overcoming Addiction, Former Cop Will Run Boston Marathon For Charity

By Victoria Kim 03/24/17

Danny Dwyer has already raised over $8,000 for a local homeless shelter. 

People running in a marathon.

A former Boston police officer in recovery is giving back to his community by running in this year’s Boston Marathon. 

Danny Dwyer is hoping to inspire other people going through the same struggles he once had. He lived under a bridge in Boston’s North End for four years before he had a moment of clarity, found treatment for his drug addiction, and committed to a fresh start.

Dwyer recalled being introduced to drugs early in life. He told CBS Boston that he started using marijuana at eight years old, then other drugs as he got older. “I started to build a tolerance,” he said. “You know, sleeping pills and smoking marijuana.”

But he didn’t let his early drug use stop him from building a career in law enforcement. Dwyer joined the Air National Guard, the Air Force and the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department before he became a Boston police officer.

His career was brought to a halt when he injured his knee while chasing an armed robbery suspect. He became hooked on opioid painkillers. “And now here I’m stuck, as a police officer,” he told CBS. “I’m afraid to tell anybody about it because I am so embarrassed and ashamed that I failed—that’s how I felt, you know?”

Dwyer continued to use opioids until he lost everything, including his home. “There was a breakdown somewhere along the way, whenever it was. Whether it was moral, whether it was physical, something happened to start a progression towards that,” he said.

He overdosed twice while he was homeless. “I remember being angry when I was brought back. I felt like I couldn’t even die correctly.”

But eventually he had a change of heart and found the will to change his life. “I just had this moment of clarity that … I’m going to die and I don’t want to die like this.” Dwyer checked in to treatment for his drug use and began to run.

On April 17, Dwyer will be among more than 30,000 participants running in the 26.2-mile Boston Marathon. He’s already raised over $8,000 for Lazarus House, a homeless shelter and food pantry in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

“I felt that me running, maybe I can be a symbol for hope for people, and I can reach my hand back, that responsibility that I feel like I have so that somebody can say, you know, it’s not all perfect,” said Dwyer. “You need to allow people around you to help you and show you a way out. You need to start building that foundation.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr