After telling his story of drug addiction and recovery, Jared Larkey, soft-spoken and measured in his tone, has what seems to be an afterthought.
He entered rehab for the sake of his 11/2-year-old son, he says, but also for his dad, a long-time pain pill user, who died last year of an opiate overdose.
"He was a disabled Navy vet, but he got into a really bad car accident and messed up his back really bad," Larkey said of his father. "He was on three different pain medications all at the same time, all from the same doctor."
Their roads are similar.
For Larkey, 26, an injury would lead to opioid addiction, heroin, a drug charge, drug court and the Bowen Center, a mental health and rehabilitation agency.
Going from pain medication to heroin is not a big leap, he says.
Larkey said he experimented with drugs while attending Huntington North High School. After graduating in 2008, he injured his lower back at work in 2010. A doctor put him on hydrocodone, an opioid.
"That’s the way the doctors work nowadays. Instead of addressing the issue," Larkey recalls, "he just kept writing me a prescription to mask the pain. As long as the pain wasn’t there, I could go to work. I could go on with my life. And that’s what really mattered to me at the time, making sure I had a roof over my head and the bills were paid."
He was on the drug about three years when he lost his insurance to pay for it. The pills didn’t fix his back problem, but he went into withdrawal without them. He searched for pain meds so he could go to work "and continue life."
Heroin was his answer. He found it everywhere in Fort Wayne. He first snorted it, then used a needle after seeing it took less to get high.
"I was definitely an addict, especially once the heroin took ahold," he said.
It affected his family. His attitude and mannerisms changed, he said. He lost 30 or 40 pounds. He’d get up, get high and sleep all day. Heroin came first and everything else after. His worries melted away.
In December 2014, Larkey said he was discovered with a baggie of heroin at work. That led to a drug possession charge, which is still being addressed through drug court. The court allows drug and alcohol offenders to defer prosecution of their cases while they complete court-ordered counseling, drug tests, support group meetings and weekly hearings.
For Larkey, part of the process is attending Bowen Center classes. He acknowledges having one relapse but said he was welcomed back to the center to finish. He expects to graduate from drug court in December.
He praises both drug court and Bowen for giving him the tools for a successful recovery.
Bowen teaches users how to cope. They attend support group meetings, which Larkey said he didn’t intend to do. But he went and listened and learned how the discussion related to him.
He is clean now and living in Fort Wayne with his fiancée and child. The pain is still there.
"At this point, I just push through it," Larkey said. "Because I know going to the doctor or whatever, I don’t want to risk being prescribed another narcotic drug and go through that vicious cycle. It’s just not worth it."