By Luke Kenton
An ex-drug addict of 15 years celebrated his fourth year sober with an inspirational message, hoping that he – and his homemade pill-bottle mascot – can inspire others to kick their deadly habit.
With opioid overdoses killing more than 17,000 Americans last year alone, the United States is widely considered to be the midst of a prescription painkiller crisis.
But ex-addict Frank Huntley, from Boston, Massachusetts, USA, believes he can make a difference, using his own struggles as inspiration.
Following a neck injury in 1998, Frank began taking the now notorious opiate OxyContin, a pain medication with a high-risk for addiction and dependence.
After 14 years of ‘complete reliance’ on the drug, seeing his initial doses of five milligrams per day skyrocketing to 90 milligrams every four to six hours, on October 1, 2013, the father-of-two finally said ‘enough is enough’ and went cold turkey on the drugs he once deemed vital to his existence.
During his final year, Frank used methadone to ween himself off of the drugs for the final year.
After celebrating four years of sobriety, the Boston native, accompanied by his mascot, ‘Pillman’, is urging others to ditch the deadly drugs and instead go out and enjoy their lives.
Hoping to take his message across the US, Frank, said: “I hope to show how drugs, even medically prescribed ones, can get out of control, and hopefully I can educate others by showing them what I went through for 15 years.
“It feels incredible to be four years sober, I feel alive and I feel like my body has come back to me little by little.
“I still deal with pain every minute of the day, but I’m learning to control it myself, without any prescription pills.
“My addiction to OxyContin has taken years off of my life – my body now looks good on the outside but it’s very damaged on the inside.
“At times, I didn’t even know what I was taking; the pills consumed me.
“I’m so angry at the [medical] industry for giving them out like M&M’s, when they know how many side effects come with these medications.
“I don’t want people to lose what I lost, this is what motivates me to make a difference.”
Admitting his addiction caused a number of family conflicts, Frank’s dependence on OxyContin even lead to the loss his painting and decorating business.
Becoming an introvert, Frank rarely left his room, but on the rare occasion he did, his pills were ‘always close by,’ he said.
Finally, having had a revelation in 2013, Frank refused a doctor’s prescription for another dosage of opiates, deciding to go cold turkey on OxyContin, which lead to several months of excruciating withdrawals.
The son of a sculptor, Frank decided to channel his focus into his own artistic creation, using the pill bottles he had hauled over the past 15 years to create a visual representation of the control OxyContin had over his body, naming it ‘Pillman’.
After several successful publicity stunts in Massachusetts and New York, Frank is hoping to become a public speaker for what he calls the ‘prescription drug crisis’, educating the public across every state, with the help of his trusty sidekick.
Frank said: “With the reception I’ve already received with Pillman, I’ve found out that I can give hope with a man made out of pill bottles.
“I would like to see pharmacies, hospitals and doctors show videos to the consumers that are prescribed these drugs, on what can happen, and the side effects that come with these drugs.
“I’ve seen it affect so many people, including family members, and it just has to stop.
“I will be attending the New England Opioid Crisis Conference in November, and I’ve teamed up with Cash 4 Clothes to put out Pillman-themed collection bins out in various states to raise money and start helping fight opiate addiction.
“I would love to take my campaign all across America – it’s a crisis that needs to be confronted.
“I’m hoping that if people can see that I can give them up after 15 years, that it encourages them to try and claim their lives back. too.”
To support Frank and his cause, please visit: HERE.