A Utah motivational speaker is trying to spread substance abuse awareness after losing everything and becoming homeless due to addiction.
When Jared was younger, he was always athletic. Eventually, he earned a scholarship to play football for Snow College in Ephraim, UT. By the age of 22, he was the first person in my family to graduate with a four-year degree, and by the age of 24, he was a high school football coach in Arizona.
“I had a great childhood — an all American childhood,” Jared Miller described. “I got a great start in life.”
Until tragedy struck.
Turn for the worst
“Life kind of threw me a curveball,” Jared explained. Within the span of three years, Jared would experience the loss of both his father and brother, as well as a divorce from his wife. The whole time he was abusing pain medications.
Like so many other athletes like Jared, surgeries had taken their toll on his body. He began to retreat into what would help numb the pain.
“I found myself thinking, if pain meds are great for physical pain, they’d be great for emotional pain,” he said.
Jared found that if he would take a couple of pain meds, he’d be able to go to sleep much easier. But unfortunately for Jared, this created a dangerous cycle that would ultimately see his kids being taken away from him due to his drug use.
Jared’s Rock Bottom
“At that point, I stopped caring. I stopped going to work. I stopped paying bills and I moved in with my mom,” Jared described.
The respite of living with his mother quickly became a disaster as soon as Jared’s addiction to pills turned into an addiction to heroin. His mother quickly found out and kicked him out. Jared’s drug abuse had not only taken everything he loved away from him but it had left him homeless and craving more.
“I ended up in the Salt Lake City Rio Grande district — homeless,” he said. “I felt guilty and I felt like I’d let my dad down, my brother down, my wife down,”
On July 3rd, 2014 the pain and guilt became unbearable. Jared had decided to end all of the pain and tragedy he had experienced. He was going to try and take his own life.
“When I was ready to go, there was no goodbye letters,” he explained. “I was ready to go join my dad and my brother. I was done.”
The pain of reality
Jared ended up overdosing in a public bathroom. Local police were forced to administer Narcan to bring Jared back. He regained consciousness but woke up in an angered state after he realized he hadn’t passed away. Jared began to try and physically assault anyone he could. He was ultimately detained and immediately sent to a detox center where he would experience withdrawals for his substance abuse.
His near-death experience would ultimately be the catalyst for Jared to turn his life around.
Spreading substance abuse awareness
Jared would spend nine months in a men’s recovery center to get clean and to reacclimate to society.
Heis now sober and has spent years trying to make amends to those he pushed away, for himself and for his kids.
He now works as an Experiential Director in St. George, UT helping at-risk youth. Jared also started the Miller Motivation Group, an educational group of empowerment speakers. His goal is now to be there for others who need the same help he did.
And while his attention is on anyone who is struggling, he’s hoping to make amends to those who he lost due to his substance abuse.
“I do what I do today because … if one day my kids see me at a school speaking, if one day they hear me on a news broadcast, they see me doing an event, hopefully to them, they’ll know I’ve made mistakes but I’ve also learned from them. I’m extremely driven to learn from those mistakes” Jared said. “It’s redemption”
Listen to the podcast to learn more about substance abuse awareness
For more information on addiction or if you or someone you know is struggling, you can find more information on Facebook, KSL TV, or from Use Only as Directed. To hear more from Casey Scott and Dr. Matt Woolley, you can listen below or subscribe to the ‘Project Recovery’ podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get major podcasts.