Eyewitness News reporter Rachel Polansky introduces us to a Utica man who wants the community to know about his story and struggle.
Kevin Parker is just a normal guy; he lives in Utica, works every day, and has children- but Kevin has a dark secret. He's been battling his addiction with synthetic marijuana and bath salts for 2 years.
"I'm a drug addict, been a drug addict my whole life. I was mixing synthetic marijuana with 'glass cleaner,' I was doing both of these and whatever else I could get my hands on," says Kevin.
Kevin Parker discovered synthetic marijuana and bath salts 2 years ago.
"I liked it so much that it consumed my life. I couldn't live without it, at the end, I was smoking almost 5 grams a day. I smoked during my job, I smoked during everything I did, I smoked in bathrooms, they were giving me a stress test in the hospital and I smoked in the hospital bathroom before they gave me the stress test," says Kevin.
He says synthetic drugs are cheaper, easier to get, and right around the corner. But after they sent him to the hospital many times, Kevin realized they're more dangerous than other illegal drugs.
"I visited the hospital 5 times in 4 months. I had heart failure, problems with my kidneys, all sorts of issues, I was in denial, I didn't want to believe it was the drugs, I just thought I was getting old and breaking down. The pivotal event was when I got to the brink of death and decided I wanted to live," says Kevin.
On April 20th of this year, the synthetic drugs sent Kevin to the hospital again and this time, the doctors said he wouldn't live. But Kevin knew it wasn't the end. He quit cold turkey and has stayed sober since.
"I just started to pick up the pieces and pick up my life, doing the things i needed to do stay away from that stuff," says Kevin.
He says he reads a text from his son everyday: "You looked great today, better than you have in months. I'm really proud of you, keep it up. Love ya dude."
Kevin's been clean for 61 days now. He keeps 1 unopened bag of synthetic marijuana as a reminder that he never wants to go back.
"My bottom line is I'd like to help somewhere. I'm sure there's people trying to kick this right now. They're probably lost and think it can't be done. 61 days ago, there's no way I thought I'd be here 60 days sober. I'm not perfect and I'm not by any means done, but I can promise myself and everyone else that I'm done with chemicals. If I can do it, maybe they can draw inspiration from that," says Kevin.
After visiting with me, Kevin shared his story with some community members at the Tramontane Cafe in Utica. He says he hopes sharing his story will help others who are abusing, while promoting the evils of synthetic drugs.