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After many Narcan revivals, Warren man helps others

By RENEE FOX

Staff writer

WARREN — Matt Davis, 30, Warren, was revived with Narcan too many times for him to count.

“If they had said, ‘Call it quits with this guy,’ I would have died,” Davis said. “It saved my life several times because it took a while for me to find my path.”

In and out of jail all through his 20s, he spent a collective seven years behind bars. In one day in 2008, he overdosed twice in two separate incidents.

“They’d find me in a car, or a bathroom, in a living room. I could have been gone many times,” Davis said.

“Naloxone enables people to breathe and to live. It doesn’t change the addiction; but treatment can. Giving someone Narcan (Naloxone) gives the person the chance to get into recovery. Our first responders and others who are reviving people with Naloxone are true heroes,” said April Caraway, executive director of the Trumbull County Mental Health Board.

Despite the negative and dismissive attitudes some people take toward the use of Narcan, it often saves someone’s life long enough to turn it around.

Davis now works with men in a Warren recovery center, helping them face the issues that drove them to use and the fears and sadness that keeps them from getting better, and he leads group sessions.

It took a while to get to the position to help others, but a spiritual awakening he experienced after a July 2016 overdose that put him in a five-day coma, leading to a nine-day intensive care hospital stay after he awoke from the coma, changed everything.

“I was never religious, and I still don’t believe in organized religion, but I didn’t believe in anything. I was combative anytime someone wanted to talk about it, I shut them down or made fun of them,” Davis said.

But when he paid attention to the signs, signs he said showed him that there was something bigger than him, he began to feel like he might have a chance of ending the cycle of drug use intermingled with brief stints of abstinence, either from a prison stay or going through the motions of a recovery program he wasn’t ready to accept.

“I felt for the first time that I might actually be able to this,” Davis said.

And he did.

Now he is in a healthy relationship, works, saves money and helps other people going through what he went through. He tried his hand at gardening, he is proud of his home and even quit cigarettes.

“I’m in the position to give back to society, instead of taking from society. I’m putting something back in to the stream of life,” Davis said.

It takes time to get to that place, and for some the chance never comes.

He was holding his brother’s hand April 2 when doctors declared him dead from an accidental drug overdose.

The other times Davis was in recovery programs, he didn’t actually work the steps, he didn’t pick up the book and read it, he said. He was tired, but never really asked for help or opened himself up to the do work.

“I was guaranteeing I would use again,” Davis said.

But once it clicked, it clicked.

When he woke up from the coma connected to tubes in July, his mother was at his side.

“How long was I out?” he asked her.

He thought she was counting hours on her fingers, but it was days.

“I knew then, for the first time in a long time, that I wanted to live. I felt emotional about it for the first time,” Davis said.

A few spiritual moments spoke to him after he woke up from the coma. While the old Matt might have written the moments off as coincidences, he listened to the sense of calm and peace that arose in him and recognized the goosebumps on his arms.

“I felt a peace I had never felt before,” Davis said. “I was always internally disturbed, but I felt a new calm.”

It was hard to get on his feet, it took about two years to pay what he needed to begin driving again. So, he had to walk miles to work, and everytime he thought he cleared some legal hurdle, there was a new one.

“Even in sobriety, there can be challenges,” Davis said.

But eventually, it was all taken care of.

Davis said he hopes to eventually get more schooling and help more people understand and conquer their trauma as a counselor or psychologist.

“I want to show people that they can be happy, and put something back into the stream of life,” Davis said.

rfox@tribtoday.com

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