Recovering opioid addict from Leamington shares his story of recovery

Matt Kelly will tell his story of hitting rock bottom during a public meeting Tuesday in LaSalle that aims to educate parents of teenagers about the opioid crisis.

Matt Kelly felt "hopeless" while addicted to painkillers

Matt Kelly is a recovering drug addict who is speaking at a public meeting in LaSalle on Tuesday about opioid addiction in teenagers. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

A Leamington man will share his story of opioid addiction during a public meeting Tuesday night in LaSalle, 

Matt Kelly will be speaking at "Not My Kid: Opioids and Adolescents," a forum being held at the Vollmer Centre at 6 p.m.

The event, hosted by  the Windsor Essex Community Health Centre, is aimed at educating parents, coaches and teachers about the dangerous and highly addictive painkillers.

Kelly started using drugs in his teens, which led to an addiction to both cocaine and opioids that quickly overtook his life.

"Being involved with the wrong people, knee deep in the party scene, I was fully indulged in that lifestyle to the point where I couldn't maintain a job," he explained.

Around the age of 18, he realized he had a drug addiction that was becoming unmanageable.

"I had all these goals and dreams ... and you just get to a point where you feel hopeless," he said.

Despite repeated attempts at rehabilitation, Kelly said he didn't really deal with his problem until he turned 30 and had hit rock bottom.

"There was one priority ... my drug use."

He said he finally owned up to the scope of his problems when he had a chance to sit and talk with someone who was in a similar place.

"If we can understand the problem, then we're better equipped to solve it," said Kelly who added drug addiction can happen to anyone.

That's part of why he agreed to speak at Tuesday's event.

"It's a great feeling to be able to contribute back to my community and be part of the solution, not the problem," he said. 

Fighting back tears, Kelly said he wants to help make sure others don't suffer the way he did. 

"That's what I'm here for, to communicate a message of hope. That you can recover."