[ Ethereal music plays ] -I just always was fascinated with the cosmos and stars and galaxies and the structure of the universe.
The speed of light and how, when you're looking up at space, you're actually looking at the past.
♪♪ My first memory of, you know, knowing that I was different was in first grade.
I think my teacher's name was Mrs. Buchel in our school.
-And she would pass out this one-sheet like simple reading and I just remember looking at it like it was Chinese.
♪♪ [ Indistinct conversation and children's laughter ] ♪♪ And we had those desks where you like lift up the whole desk and then there's just space to put stuff in.
And then I had a stack of them stuffed in the desk because I never handed them in.
♪♪ I just never had control of my life, ever.
♪♪ Hey, Jo.
Call me when you get a second.
[ Click ] [ Cellphone vibrating ] Hi.
How are you?
-Good, how are you?
-I just have like a million questions to ask you but... -Go ahead.
Going back to... and I don't even know where to go.
Sometimes it's so, so much -I know.
-there and I just feel like also, I couldn't talk to you for so many years, in any real way.
So, like, you know, I'm relearning you and trying to understand you.
Um, I guess the question I have is why would you want to be open about your story?
What would you want people to know?
Why wouldn't you want to hide it?
-I don't know, to help other people, you know?
To make other people understand that, you know, listen, there are probably a lot of people out there who have a pretty similar story to mine.
Whether -- whether their childhood trauma was a learning disability or being beat up by their parents or some other childhood trauma, there's -- there's lots of people that have a story similar to mine.
-And the other thing is, you know, you have three kids that grew up in the same house their entire life, okay?
-With the same two parents, who stayed married, in the exact same environment.
[ Vehicle horn honks outdoors ] [ Clears throat ] Why did one of them [bleep] up so badly?
The fact that, you know, we're brother and sister, you're in a very unique position to tell this story.
-You know, I think that I don't know anything.
This is why I'm here.
I want to know everything.
-[ Sigh ] Okay, so, this is how the story goes, in terms of how opiates took over my life.
♪♪ [ Vehicle horns and sirens blaring, dogs barking ] In 2005, I hurt my back.
I went to this doc.
He gave me 90 Norcos.
With a refill.
♪♪ -Are you suffering with pain?
-Do you feel like everyone [ Vehicle horns blaring ] is far away from you?
-Feel the weight of sadness.
-You feel lonely.
-Long-term pain relief that sets you free.
-So what happens?
I'm taking like 10 a day.
[ Siren wailing ] So then, I ran out of them and then what do I do?
I tell anyone who has Vicodin, "I'll buy it from you," okay?
And that's it.
It was downhill from there.
♪♪ The financial crisis is getting worse.
It's getting worse.
I'm freaking out that the fund and everything will be okay.
-Market Dow tumbled more than five -- [ Slam ] ♪♪ And then, Dad died.
You know, just completely suddenly.
♪♪ I literally had a conversation with him Friday afternoon and that's the last time I ever talked to him.
[ Slam ] And then I'm just like a zombie walking through the offices of my company and then, like two weeks later when the business went under.
♪♪ I'm thinking about it, "I got to get out of my head.
I can't take it because I just -- I'm in so much pain.
I got to stop this pain.
I got to stop."
♪♪ That's when I started using heroin.
[ Wind whistling ] ♪♪ When you have thoughts like racing in your head and you're just freaked out about everything and you have no idea what you're going to do and you got all these, you know, [bleep] rolling around in your head, heroin is very good at stopping that cold in the tracks.
♪♪ -I guess the question I have is, when that goes away, what's left?
-Oh, just horror and misery.
[ Thunder crashes ] [ Echoing ] Matt.
[ Thud ] -When the heroin starts to wear off and you start to get, you know, feel dopesick... ♪♪ ...it's the worst mental and physical pain you can imagine.
-So, then, all those thoughts rush in, everything you were just trying to avoid.
Ten times worse.
A hundred times worse.
♪♪ But then what do you do?
How do you... Then what's the solution to that?
Get more and stop it.
And that's why heroin is such a hard drug to get off of, because for, you know, $10 or $15, you can stop the pain.
♪♪ -It makes me feel like, in some way, that there is the idea that, not only is it a disease, but it's a learned disorder.
-Like that you actually have rewired your brain.
There's no ques-- Totally.
Neuroplasticity, it rewires your brain.
-There's a mysterious zone far out in our solar system.
[ Click ] -This is a lemur on a tree in Madagascar.
♪♪ -There's many animals that take drugs.
[ Crunch ] So there's this one -- I think it's a lemur that gets high off this one, I don't know, This one... another thing native to Madagascar and they just show you the lemur like, it's like salivating from the mouth and like laying upside-down and just high as [bleep].
♪♪ We have the same midbrain as these other mammals.
Midbrain is responsible for like the next 10 seconds, 10 or 15 seconds of your life.
♪♪ -[ Wailing ] -It makes you breathe.
♪♪ [ Gunshot ] It's fight-or-flight.
♪♪ Once an addict gets that rewiring gone, you know, that rewiring happens, which, it happens very, very quickly, my prefrontal cortex can't overpower it.
[ Static crackles ] [ Engines whining ] Remember the first intervention, when umm-- when you flew in after Mom was in California?
-Yeah, it was really scary to see you.
I felt like you'd given up on life.
You had dirty dishes everywhere.
You were just a mess.
-Right, right, oh, yeah.
Addiction is so much, out of any disease, it affects the people around you the most.
It really does.
So, you know, where cancer, yeah, it affects your family, but...addiction literally tears the fabric of a family at its roots.
And it [bleep] up the family.
And we live in this family and we know that my actions and all the bull [bleep] that I put this family through has ripped this family apart.
♪♪ I went into like just a three-day rehab, the weekend, because I had a job at that point.
♪♪ And I go to the doctor.
I just want to deal with the acute problem because I got a job now.
I just want to detox.
And he goes, "But we don't have an acute problem.
We have a chronic problem," and that's why it didn't work.
-Yeah, because you're treating a chronic disease like an acute problem.
♪♪ -Hey, Matt, what's going on?
-My name is Matt and I'm a recovering addict.
-Matt, would you like to share?
-Matt, are you using again?
-So if rehab doesn't work and these short detoxes don't work, what does work for you?
-So let's just get a term ready for you so I can use it.
It's called IOP, which stands for intensive outpatient.
And IOP, they always say, you know, never miss.
You know, always come in.
Doesn't matter how you feel, you know, because it's a very dangerous world out there.
It's dangerous to be out in society.
So, in your program, do you see a therapist?
-Where do you think it all comes from?
-That I hate myself and I can't stop hating myself for two minutes to give myself a break that will allow me to start over.
♪♪ I can't change the past, okay?
Believe me, I've tried.
I've tried in my mind.
And I'm so sick of being in a position of saying, "God, if I could just go back a year, if I could just go back six months, if I could just go back three months."
I can't do that anymore.
I got to stop doing that.
♪♪ -I haven't used heroin since January.
So that's, you know, getting in close to a year, you know, a month and a -- You know, that's the longest I've gone.
I'm on Suboxone.
[ Pills rattling ] It's working.
♪♪ -Are you worried now that you will use again and you won't stay where you're at right now?
I mean, you always have to be worried, to some degree.
-Of course I'm worried.
Of course I'm worried.
I know I'm an addict and it's a very strong force, unfortunately, in my life and that I'll be fighting for the rest of my life.
[ Pills rattling ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Rumbling ] ♪♪ [ Vacuum hisses ] Maybe I'll stick to the not using drugs and stick around on this planet for a little longer.
-3, 2, 1, blast off!
♪♪ -I want to live.
Is what I guess I'm trying to say.
-That's a big thing to say.
♪♪ -When I can stop the drugs and, you know, stick around, maybe I'll live long enough for us to send a probe to Europa or Enceladus and we'll, you know, drill through the ice and find life on those moons.
♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ Hello.
My name is Matt and I'm a recovering heroin and crack cocaine addict.
A solution to the American opioid epidemic will ultimately be found on the demand side of the equation.
This means repurposing the deca billions of dollars spent seizing less than 10% of the drugs that flow into America into drug treatment and harm reduction programs.