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Police officer John Cacela of Ware, Massachusetts, at left, with Emily Ligawiec at a pottery class where they touch base on her recovery from a drug overdose.Karen Brown takes a look at the opioid crisis in the region.

A Former Drug User Recalls 'The Day I Got Sober'

Croix Paquette, pictured at right, is in recovery and works with the DART program.
Karen Brown
Croix Paquette, pictured at right, is in recovery and works with the DART program.

Croix Paquette is a Tennessee native and a natural storyteller. One story he often tells is about the last day he used drugs.

Paquette was addicted to heroin, cocaine and alcohol for most of his 20s, and had many stints in jail and rehab.

Now sober and living in Belchertown, Massachusetts, he volunteers with the Drug Addiction and Recovery Team (DART) — a collaboration between the Northampton health department and police across the region.

Croix Paquette: So December 10, 2017, I had relapsed at the sober house. I called an Uber to a meeting in Amherst, and I raised my hand — I was in a 12-step meeting — I raised my hand, and I said I needed help.

And then, you know, I’m the type of guy that asks for help, and then leaves the room.

And I went outside, and this lady came outside, and she said, “We need to put together a plan for you, because the one that’s going on between your ears isn’t looking so good.”

That wasn’t far from the truth. It was actually a horrible plan. My plan was to continue using drugs, to maybe meet my demise. And she asked me if she could take me to detox, if I was willing to go to detox. And I agreed. And in the middle of a snowstorm on December 10, she drove me to Greenfield from Amherst. I didn’t know her. I didn’t know her name.

And she got me there, and I got out of the car, and she pulled out what seemed to be Christmas shopping bags out of the back of her car. And she pulled a brand-new Eddie Bauer winter jacket out of the Christmas shopping bag, and she ripped the tags off of it. And she handed it to me, and she said, “You might need this.”

And I don’t know if it’s because I’m from Nashville, Tennessee, and I think a sweatshirt is a winter jacket. That might’ve had something to do with it. Or the fact that she may have thought that I wasn’t even going to walk into that detox when she pulled off — that I may not have been ready, but I was gonna need a coat, because it was a snowstorm outside.

I don’t think she cared which option it was. She felt in her heart that I needed a winter jacket. I probably owe some sort of amends to her husband or son, whomever that jacket was for.

But I went in there, and that’s the day that I gave up. That’s the day that I gave up all my best ideas on how to stay sober, and be healthy and happy. That’s the day I got sober.

Correction: An earlier version of this story had an incorrect spelling of Croix Paquette's first name.

This is part of a series. Catch up here with part one, part two, part three and part four.

Karen Brown is a radio and print journalist who focuses on health care, mental health, children’s issues, and other topics about the human condition. She has been a full-time radio reporter for NEPM since 1998.
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