Cross Country Walker, Opioid Activist Departing From Newtown
A recovering opioid user is planning to depart Wednesday, August 12, from Edmond Town Hall, beginning a journey to spread the word about recovery and hope on a walk that will lead him across the nation.
East Hampton resident Don Forrest told The Newtown Bee last week that he initially hoped to join the growing number of citizen activists raising awareness about gun violence. Because of his proximity to the community, and its Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, he mapped his route with plans to step off here in Newtown.
But as his planned departure date grew closer, Forrest said he was confronted by someone who asked him if he had ever been personally impacted by gun violence.
“The truth was, I hadn’t,” he said. “I only really chose that [cause] because at the time my daughter was in the same grade and was the same age. So, I decided that I now need to do this [because of] something that has personally impacted my life — opioid addiction.”
Realizing the opioid epidemic was still gripping the entire nation and has remained “a very serious issue despite everything else that’s going on,” it made more sense for Forrest to join the fight against this national public health crisis.
“So I decided to keep my location the same since I had [already] mapped out step by step directions starting from Newtown,” he said.
Forrest is planning a 9 am departure, and is hoping to chronicle his journey and interactions as he first heads south to Atlanta, and then west, eventually ending up north of Los Angeles in Thousand Oaks, California.
“I’m bringing my laptop with me because I’m gonna be writing an autobiography about my whole life, starting from the day I was born all the way up to now and what led me to want to do this walk,” he explained.
'A Serious Addict'
Forrest confided that from the time he was 23 years old and for the next decade, he was “a serious addict to opiates.”
“I overdosed once when I was 30,” he said, “but that still didn’t stop me. My addiction was so serious that I was practically breaking bones on purpose just to get prescribed narcotics.”
Shortly after his 33rd birthday, Forrest hit bottom.
“I just had enough,” he said. “In the ten years of my nightmare of addiction, I lost two friends of mine [to overdoses],” he said. “I dealt with being dope-sick for a few days after quitting, and then I was clean.”
On October 11, presumably near or at his cross-country journey’s end, Forrest said he will be celebrating “four years since I stopped everything — opiates, alcohol, and cigarettes.”
He invites anyone who has also experienced their own journey of addiction, and those who support sobriety and recovery, to join in seeing him off as he takes the next few steps on his life journey — free from addiction and eager to share his message of hope to others.