“I didn’t love myself enough to live.” One man’s story of addiction, getting clean, and losing people he knows to drugs

“I didn’t love myself enough to live.” One man’s story of addiction, getting clean, and losing people he knows to drugs

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - “If you look where I’m at now, that’s an amazing journey.”

Ralph Wylie has been sober for three years. In May, he celebrated that milestone at Watertown’s Thompson Park.

“Be a better me, be a better Ralph,” he said.

Wylie’s struggle has lasted close to 30 years. He says it started with alcohol and marijuana. Later, after an injury, he became addicted to pain killers. That led to crack and fentanyl.

“It came down to the point where I didn’t love myself enough to live,” Wylie said.

Wylie says he spent some time in jail, and went through two rehab programs.

“I became a better Ralph, so my son can have stability in my life,” he said. “Once I was told that I couldn’t take care of a special needs child because I couldn’t take care of myself, I think that was that point right there I needed to really look at myself. Do I really want to go back out there and use? Or do I want to try something different with my life?”

Now, Wylie works for PIVOT, a group focused on helping people battling addictions. He collects data and volunteers. His goal is to help people still using drugs.

Last month, Jefferson County saw a spike in overdoses, some of them, fatal. Wylie says he knew many of the 22 people who died, and he has advice for those who want to start down the road to recovery.

“If you really think that you need help, or you really want to do something, please walk through those doors. They are there to help you,” he said.

Wylie continues to take part in a drug recovery program. He hopes he can be a role model for those who are struggling.

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