Newest Chapter In Man's Heroin Recovery Chronicled On CBS News Series

By McCarton Ackerman 10/25/16

Jason Amaral, the subject of CBS' In The Shadow of Death: Jason's Journey, talks about his recovery and the battles he still faces in sobriety.

Newest Chapter In Man's Heroin Recovery Chronicled On CBS News Series
Boston native Jason Amaral Photo: YouTube

The early stages of one man’s journey from addiction to recovery is being given an update as part of a multi-part series for CBS Evening News.

"In The Shadow of Death: Jason’s Journey," follows 30-year-old Boston native Jason Amaral, a heroin user who has struggled with addiction for more than a decade. The first two parts of the series, both five-minutes long, aired in May. The first part followed Amaral roaming the streets of Boston for a final fix before entering rehab in March, while the second part showed him entering Recovery Centers of America (RCA) in New Jersey.

Addiction is a part of Amaral’s family story. His brother is also a heroin user and undergoes treatment simultaneously.

“I’ve smoked crack every day for the past three months. I honestly don’t know how to live a normal life sober,” said Amaral to a worker at the center at the time. "After the footage you’ve seen, who would wanna live like that? But it’s not really what I want to do. It’s just what … you could say what the drug drives me to do, I guess.”

But six months later, Amaral has managed to stay sober. After finishing 30 days at the New Jersey facility, he transferred to Awakenings Lodge and lived off-site from the main treatment center. He graduated from the program in six weeks after completing regular therapy sessions and weekly drug tests.

Amaral now has a full-time job at a restaurant, but was recently invited by RCA to work at their Massachusetts facilities. He’s even been approached by Massachusetts lawmakers to speak on addiction.

“I just feel a lot better than I felt when I first got here, and what I thought I was going to feel like in 14 to 21 days,” said Amaral on his last day at the New Jersey facility.

Amaral says he's lost a lot of friends to overdose. "It seems like a lot of people have been dying in the past fews months than before, and before it was a lot. It's just crazy. A few real close friends have died ... In the past six months at least 20 to 25 people that I know have died. Close friends, I'd say like five or six." 

He credited his friend Mike Duggan, who accompanied him to rehab, with playing an integral role in being able to get sober. Although Amaral admitted there are still battles in his sobriety, he remains determined to push through them.

"To stop getting high is like one of the hardest things I've ever done. To physically withdraw from drugs for me is probably the hardest thing I've ever done in my life," said Amaral.

“There’s always going to be a part of me that wants to get high,” he said during the second chapter of the series. “[But] I don’t want my legacy to be, this kid overdosed, you know?”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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