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‘Brings tears to my eyes’: Grand Strand man shares recovery story in hopes of preventing another overdose death

Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 6:23 PM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - It’s a story of recovery that one Horry County man hopes you’ll listen to.

The CDC recently revealed that over 93,000 people across the country died in 2020 from a drug overdose. For Horry County resident Chad Whidenhouse, those numbers hit close to home.

Widenhouse said he lost a close friend from a drug overdose about two weeks ago.

Now he is doing all he can to save people from a life of drugs by reminding them there’s a road to recovery.

For about 28 years, Widenhouse said he was in an active alcohol and drug addiction cycle.

“There were some good years, and there was a lot of bad years,” Widenhouse said. “I literally had trash bags over my mirrors for six years in my bathroom or anywhere in my house that had a mirror, because I absolutely hated the person that stared back at me when I looked in the mirror.”

He says his rock bottom moment hit on May 25, 2018.

“Still brings tears to my eyes,” Widenhouse said. “Probably one of the hardest days of my life.”

On that haunting day in 2018, he said he had given up. But with the support and help of loved ones, he was able to attend a recovery center out of state in Florida.

“I realized I was in a do-or-die situation,” he said. “I realized then I wanted to live. I was talking with someone one day and he told me there was only one thing in my life I have to change. I told him if it’s only one thing it must be easy so what is it? And he told me, Everything.”

Since that moment, Widenhouse says he’s been taking things one day at a time.

“I realized when I went to the other rehabs I went for all the wrong reasons,” he said. “I went to make other people happy.”

He said there have been challenging days, however, he’s working on himself to stay the clean course.

He’s now three years sober and working at his family business.

His message to anyone struggling to fight any addiction is that you can change your life for the better!

“I’m just now starting to gain a relationship with my daughter at three years sober and clean that she and I had lost,” Widenhouse said. “I met my grandchildren for the first time over July 4th weekend. I saw my son for the first time in ten years all because of recovery. I recover loudly so others don’t die quietly. Recovery is possible and it’s worth it. I’ve got another relapse in me, but I sure don’t have another recovery. So that’s why I’m going to try my best every day, not tomorrow, to make it work.”

Widenhouse said one of the places he goes to reflect on his journey and recharge his motivation is the beaches.

“Each day that I do, it gives me hope to keep on doing this, each and every day,” he said.

Medical officials said the overdose problem in the state is a dire situation.

Officials with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control said although they don’t have final numbers on opioid overdoses in 2020, based on data, they believe the number will be nearly 50% higher in 2020 compared to 2019.

Widenhouse is encouraging anyone who’s struggling with addiction and in need of a support system, to contact him via email at widenhousechad@gmail.com or on his social media platforms.

“I was praying for God just to move mountains,” Widehouse said. “And you know what God did- he gave me a shovel. Because you must put the work in. I can’t keep anyone sober, but I can be there and relate to whatever they may be going through.”

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