Arizona veteran overcomes PTSD and addiction, bags city council post

Arizona veteran overcomes PTSD and addiction, bags city council post

Safford’s city council’s newest elected member has an untold success story. Chris Taylor has years of war deployments, a struggle with addiction, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) behind him. Open about his past during his campaign, Taylor won his seat in November with the highest vote. 

Having spent his initial childhood years in the Arizona city, Taylor grew up to be exceptionally good at basketball and football. During a game against Queen Creek 15 years back, Taylor got brutally injured and the excruciating pain was the worst he had felt in his lifetime. To subside that intense pain, a nurse had given him a painkiller which relieved him of that discomfort almost immediately.

Not only did the pain vanish, the painkiller also brought on a feeling of well-being and exhilaration. Taylor stated that though he stayed away from alcohol and drugs in high school, he often took prescription drugs as a means to get desensitized to pain. Unfortunately, this casual approach turned into an addiction by the time he turned 18.

Around the same time, Taylor lost two of his dear friends to a car accident and his grandmother passed away as well. All these back-to-back incidents left an impact on his life, making him very disturbed. During these emotional and physical upheavals, he discovered that OxyContin could transport him to a world devoid of pain and emotions. He started using these till the time he got enrolled into the army.

Years of service and traumatic experiences

Taylor joined the army as a paratrooper and during his tenure, he was deployed twice to Afghanistan. He had a challenging role as he was attached to a special forces team, which was responsible for weeding out Taliban from the village they were posted, to ensure a peaceful life for the locals.

During his stay of around 16 months in Afghanistan, never-ending attacks from the Taliban and the subsequent innocent deaths of colleagues and locals traumatized him, which, however, he managed to suppress. But once he was back in Arizona, he started indulging in prescription drugs again, to relieve himself from the traumatic experiences of war. Although the medicines could help him ward off the trauma and pain, he could not help himself from slipping into depression.

After the end of his deployment, Taylor moved in with his brother who stayed in Phoenix, while still grappling with depression, PTSD and addiction. When he could no longer afford the pills, he turned to heroin and the addiction continued.

Even though Taylor was screened for PTSD while he was still serving in the army, he got an appointment at the Veterans Health Administration hospital, Phoenix only after nine months of the diagnosis. During that waiting period, Taylor visited many halfway houses but nobody could help him manage his PTSD.

Beginning of recovery and healing

Taylor was admitted to the hospital when a heroin prick gave him an arm infection. The infection was so bad that he was prescribed to do a surgery. The need for change dawned upon him during his wait for surgery at the hospital. His submission to faith helped him take a major decision of his life: to change the course of his life for the better.

He was sent to California where he got enrolled in the Palo Alto trauma recovery center. The group therapy sessions helped Taylor to feel a sense of belonging by being amongst people who were familiar with his struggles and empathized with him. Though those connections helped him develop coping skills, he also felt the need of a strong purpose in life that could help break the shackles of PTSD and addiction for good.

With this resolve in mind, Taylor returned to Safford and once there, he volunteered as a firefighter, got associated with the Graham County Substance Abuse Program and the Rotary Club and started leading the boy scouts team. He also set up his own nonprofit organization called Desert Eagle Addiction Recovery, which helps patients struggling with addiction and PTSD to find the most suitable treatment protocol. Taylor stated that he forgets about his own sufferings when he helps people break away from their addictions. Taylor is now happily married and has a young daughter.

There is hope for recovery

While Taylor continues to attend his weekly therapy sessions and hopes that his success story can set an example for the others to follow, many people still need direction to get started. It is not surprising for people to suffer from the duality of substance abuse and mental health problems.

If you or someone you know, is suffering from co-occurring disorders, contact the Dual Diagnosis Helpline to find out about the best dual diagnosis rehab centers. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-981-6047 or chat online to know about various dual diagnosis rehabs in the U.S.