Former addict shares his story


Student talks give kids a chance to learn repercussions of drug use

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Members of the Teen Advisory Board at West Linn High School offered handouts, backpacks and key chains to let students know they are a safe resource to seek help during the Oct. 24 meeting. Jared Weaver had a traditional upbringing in every sense of the phrase. He was raised religiously and his father was a Christian youth pastor. He was taught what was right and what was wrong.

At age 13 he drank his first beer at a friend’s house. At age 15 he smoked marijuana for the first time. He got it from his friend’s older brother, and sometimes, he took it from his friend’s parents’ drawers. By the time he was a sophomore at St. Helens High School in St. Helens — things had spiraled out of control.

“I started selling weed my sophomore year in high school,” he said. “I wore a special hat that let people know when I was carrying and then 20 to 30 people would follow me to lunch.”

By the time Weaver would graduate from college and then go on to pursue a master’s degree, he would have 10 minor in possession charges, more severe run-ins with the law and a crippingling addiction that transferred from marijuana to psychedelic mushrooms to LSD to cocaine to ecstasy to oxycontin and, finally, to heroin.

Weaver spoke to West Linn parents and community members about addiction on Oct. 24 during a community awareness event sponsored by the West Linn Community Task Force. It was the first time the 26-year-old recovering addict publicly shared his story.

“The word ‘heroin’ is socially unacceptable. People think of heroin addicts as homeless people,” he said, adding that he was nervous to share his story with a room full of strangers. “But I knew the presentation would lead to more good than bad.

“I couldn’t believe it. I had about 20 people come up and thank me for sharing my story. Some of them were crying.”

Weaver will also share his story to West Linn High School Students during student awareness talks sponsored by the West Linn Community Task Force on Nov. 30 at West Linn High School.

Weaver said he is excited to reach out to students. He plans to discuss the pressures of popularity, sports and good grades — all issues he recently faced — and his life as an addict.

“There will be at least a few students in the audience who have already started on drugs like oxycontin,” he said. “I’m going to reach somebody. I just want to prevent anyone from going through what I went through because it was hell.”

Double life

Weaver was a star athlete. He played four sports at St. Helens High School, and despite smoking marijuana every day starting his sophomore year — he was a good student. He said he started selling weed because it was “economically viable.”

In 2004, during his junior year, he was expelled for an incident involving dog feces in a common-area microwave. As a result, he graduated early with a 3.8 grade point average and went on to study full time at Mt. Hood Community College.

His drug habits followed. He moved into a “party house” with former baseball teammates and starting experimenting with mushrooms, molly (a form of ecstasy) and LSD.

“It was my two years of hippieness,” he said.

But for the most part, he stayed out of trouble. He transferred to Oregon State University in 2006 and moved into a second “party house” that posed as a fake fraternity with three fake letters on the front porch.

One night a drug deal went bad. Weaver recalled getting into a car with two men in the backseat to sell a bag of weed. He felt the barrel of a gun on his temple. He willingly gave the bag away and vowed never to sell drugs again. Soon after, his drug habits escalated from weed to cocaine.

“Cocaine was always at the frat parties,” he said. “It was just a smorgasbord of drugs everywhere.”

By the time Weaver was 21 he was “doing whatever was available” on a nightly basis while playing poker, playing video games or visiting the strip club. He began abusing cocaine and ecstasy with friends.

Again, despite the abuse, he graduated from Oregon State University in 2009 with degrees in sports science and physical education.

“I never thought it was a problem as long as I was being successful,” he said. “I was still able to pull the grades. That’s how I rationalized it. The lie I told myself was that it didn’t affect me. … They say you’ve got to hit your rock bottom. Mine happened in graduate school.”

Drug use intensifies

While studying to receive his master’s in education at Portland State University, he practiced martial arts and began cage fighting. An injury involving torn muscles triggered Weaver’s addiction. He was prescribed oxycontin for the pain, developed a tolerance and quickly became addicted.

“Once you’ve done other drugs you get desensitized to the fact that they’re illegal or bad,” he said. “In your head you start minimizing their effects.”

Eventually, Weaver’s friend taught him that smoking oxycontin was more efficient than the slow release of pills. He never took a pill regularly again. He began smoking up to 500 milligrams a day until the same friend showed him that heroin was cheaper. At his worst, Weaver was smoking up to a gram of heroin a day.

“Once I tried it there was no turning back,” he said. “Heroin was the end-all-be-all drug and survival meant getting high. It was the only way I could function.”

Yet he functioned. In many ways, he lived a double life. On one hand he was a graduate student and a seemingly successful son, on the other hand he was an addict.

In all, Weaver spent three years under the blanket of heroin addiction, recovery, relapse and trouble he chooses not to disclose with the law. He is currently in a mandatory 12-month rehabilitation program and has been clean for six months.

Soon, he will finish graduate school at Portland State University. His ultimate goal is to be a health teacher. He understands that going public with his history of addiction may prevent him from potential jobs and opportunities, but said the opportunity to tell his story will do more good.

“I think I can really impact a lot of people for the better,” he said. “I want to illustrate that drugs don’t discriminate. They really affect everyone. Anything can be abused ... I’m just one of the fortunate ones that got out of it.”

West Linn Community Task Force

The West Linn Community Task Force was founded in 2010 when parents expressed concerns about teen drug use to West Linn High School. Today, the West Linn Community Task Force is guided by a volunteer board of directors working with professionals from multiple fields to offer youth and parents support and help.

The student awareness talks feature day-long presentations at West Linn High School about substance use and abuse.

Members of the West Linn Community Task Force Teen Advisory Board spoke, following presentations by Dr. Andrew Mendenhall of Healthworks Northwest, Bill Stewart and Steven Mygrant from the Clackamas County District Attorney’s Office, and Donny Wright from Wright Counseling of West Linn.

The presentations focused on the medical, legal, personal and mental repercussions of drug use.

To provide anonymous information about suspected illegal activity, contact West Linn Text-A-Tip. Text: 274637 (CRIMES).

For more information about the West Linn Community Task Force, visit