Recovery groups highlight growing drug problem in SWFL

Posted at 6:36 PM, Feb 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-01 18:36:08-05

Southwest Florida recovery groups are highlighting a growing drug abuse problem in Southwest Florida as death from drug overdose continues to climb across the country.

"I can't get this smile off my face sometimes. I really cant," said Eileen Kappenman, reflecting on her recovery from drug addiction. "It's a totally different thing if you would have known me 15 months ago."

"When I went into that detox, I hadn't showered. I hadn't taken a bath. I had my third suicide attempt, came off a baker act," Eileen said.

Eileen was a new wife and mother. Then her life turned upside down.

"I picked up a heroine addiction and that heroine addiction ruined my life."

As the addiction grew, so did her drugs.

"From there it went on and I just started getting stronger pills. I started buying them and doing anything I could to get pills, faking injuries, hurting myself to go to the hospital to get drugs," Eileen said.

Eileen says she managed to be clean for nearly 10 years with the help of a Narcotics Anonymous Detox Program.

"I started to be complacent. I was in relapse mode and I didn't even know it."

It would take another rehab program before Eileen would get clean again.

The Centers for Disease Control says 91 Americans die from drug overdose every day, a statistic that's quadrupled over the last 20 years.

Drugs also drove John Nichols away from who he wanted to be.

"I had no front teeth which as you can see I do now. My food that I ate came out of dumpsters where publix and other supermarket chains would throw their expired food away. And never having a home," Nichols said.

Nichols is now the founder of Rated R for Recovery, an organization that aims to reach those struggling with drug addiction in Southwest Florida.

"Just right here in this area, we've had so many young people pass away from opiod overdose, that it's just devastating," Nichols said.

"I love being able to wake up and not having to put something in my body to be able to function and that was my life, the insanity of my life. That's not me today," Eileen said.