Idaho author and business owner recounts his journey to sobriety

Jul 31, 2020, 4:13 PM
journey to sobriety...
Jason Coombs joined the Project Recovery podcast to talk about his previous substance abuse and the work he is doing down to help others overcome their own addictions.

A Utah native author and Idaho-based business owner is opening up about overcoming addiction and his journey to sobriety.

Jason Coombs, owner of Brick House Recovery in Idaho and author of Unhooked: How to Help an Addicted Loved One Recover joined the Project Recovery podcast to talk about his substance abuse and how it took everything from him.

Descent into addiction

Jason’s descent into addiction is one that can be shared with so many like him. He was in a car accident that left him seriously injured and requiring pain medication.

For Jason, his accident occurred years before opioid awareness was at the forefront of our society. He began to take his medication as prescribed but weeks following his incident, he was sitting with a coworker at the time who offered him a line of crushed oxycontin. Jason immediately took it hoping to ease more of the pain he felt. That same coworker gave him information on a doctor that would prescribe “the good stuff”.

Following his coworker’s advice, Jason sought out the doctor but he knew something was very wrong the first time he walked into his office.

“I gave the lady at the front my insurance card and she gave me a packet of information and she also gave me some instructions on how to fill out the packet. The instructions … were having me write down symptoms I didn’t have to build a case, on paper, for a herniated disc with severe pain,” Jason described.

Falsifying prescriptions

Jason’s father and grandfather both had history working in the medical field so he knew that falsifying prescriptions were illegal. But he also realized that he did need help. So he continued filling out the paperwork and was given 120 oxycontin pills.

So Jason began to take his prescribed medicine that was recommended to him by his doctor. Every time he went back though, he would get that same prescription but after the first visit, he was required to bring $1200 in cash to continue getting his pills.

Unbeknownst to Jason, he was getting advice from a doctor who was operating one of Utah’s largest opioid drug ring the state’s history.  “Ultimately it got dismantled. It got raided and shut down. All of us that were going to this doctor … our supplier dried up,” Jason said.

Jason’s drive for pain medication was higher than ever and he was going to do whatever it took to get it — no matter what it cost him.

Oxycontin addicts turn to the streets

Jason still had to have his fix but he didn’t know where to go. So within weeks, he turned to the streets. He began paying for oxycontin pills but at the price of $100 a pill, he knew he wouldn’t be able to keep up his habit of 120 pills a month.

Like many others that were at the same level of substance abuse, Jason found the much cheaper and readily available street drug of choice — heroin.

“It didn’t take long before I blew all of my savings and cashed in my 401k. I lost a series of jobs after that,” he described. “Your life just begins to circle the drain.”

Jason lost his marriage and his home. He even began living on the streets near Pioneer Park in Salt Lake City. Within a year he had gained an addiction and lost everything.

The past catches up

Jason had lost everything and everyone who was in his life. He was officially homeless but things were about to get much worse for Jason.

He would ultimately have to face charges for his participation in the drug ring.

“The charges [were] four felonies and a misdemeanor for all of the doctor shopping, the insurance fraud, obtaining false prescriptions and distribution,” Jason said. “Those caught up with me from that ring because all of the patients caught charged.”

Jason went from struggling on the streets to struggling in a court-mandated recovery program. This is where he found out about Crystal meth. Instead of being better with his addiction, his drug use only got worse.

After his first stint in rehab, Jason’s problems only got worse. He went back to the streets where, over the course of his addiction, would be sent to jail seven times.

A gift of divine intervention

All the while, Jason was being mandated to appear in drug court due to the drug charges that he was picking up. While he attended drug court, he met and ultimately got a female friend pregnant during one of the lowest moments in his life.

“When that news came that I was going to be a father … I didn’t go through the pregnancy very gracefully,” Jason explained. “I could barely take care of myself, let alone take care of a child.”

Jason couldn’t quite grasp the situation he had put himself in. He was constantly thinking that it wasn’t his child and he wasn’t going to be able to manage the responsibilities that came with being a father. That was until he held his son for the first time.

“The first time I held him, I just had this experience that I felt life changed for me. There was now a reason to live. There was now a reason to want to change,” he recalled.

The birth of his son ultimately gave Jason the volition he so desperately needed to get better. But along with that volition, came shame. All of Jason’s previous mistakes came upon him like an avalanche.

“We made the decision to place him up for adoption. I did not want him growing up with his adoptive family hearing about or learning about how his birth dad was a bum and a junkie,” Jason said.

His journey to sobriety had finally begun.

Jason’s journey to sobriety

Jason’s official sobriety date is March 19, 2009. He began to set goals to help get his life back on track. Jason started to work out and get healthier, physically and mentally. His main focus — to become a better person for his son. Since then he has put all of his efforts into helping others overcome their own struggles with addiction. Now, he currently owns two recovery centers in Idaho and has even written a book to help parents and family members identify the signs of addiction and help them towards their own journey to sobriety.

The contents of the book are the culmination of a decade of knowledge surrounding recovery from addictive behaviors. And while it has helped countless families suffering from their own stories of addiction, it also helped Jason make amends.

“It’s my way of living in amends to some really important to me,” he said. “The book is written for any parent or family member with a loved one who’s addicted.”

Now that he is long term recovery, Jason is spreading awareness on every stage he can. He has spoken for TEDx and serves on the Meridian Anti-Drug Coalition, Drug-Free Idaho, as well as the Idaho Conference on Alcohol and Drug Dependence board.

“When you get to work in the space of getting to witness the lights go on in somebody’s life, not because of you but getting the privilege to be a part of it, it just fills my soul,” Jason concluded.

Listen to the podcast to learn more about Jason’s journey to sobriety

For more information on addiction or if you or someone you know is struggling, you can find more information on Facebook, KSL TV, or from Use Only as Directed. To hear more from Casey Scott and Dr. Matt Woolley, you can listen below or subscribe to the ‘Project Recovery’ podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get major podcasts.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Project Recovery with Casey Scott & Dr. Matt Woolley

Josh Tilton

How a Utah recovery center is innovating treatment for substance abuse

A Utah recovery center owner is redefining how others find recovery after he struggled to live a substance-free lifestyle for years. Jordan Burningham, who was once addicted to heroin and struggling to stay sober, is in charge of one of the leading innovative recovery centers in Utah. He’s currently 6 years sober himself and through […]
12 months ago
Josh Tilton

How Instagram became an outlet for a mother struggling with addiction

After struggling for years with being able to stay sober, Gentry Jones turned to Instagram to try and help curb her addiction to alcohol and get her on the road to recovery. Gentry, now a mother of four kids, began to experiment with alcohol throughout her teenage years. Her substance abuse began to escalate as […]
1 year ago
Josh Tilton

Utah artist on how his addiction help fueled the creation of his new single “Tainted”

Growing up in a traditional Utah household, Tyler Gould was living the all-American dream. He was active in multiple sports and even a member of the Church of Latter-Day Saints. But after getting an itch to sell extra ADD medicine that he had laying around when he was fourteen years old, his life would never […]
1 year ago
Project Recovery host Casey Scott talks to Sarah Frei about their experiences with drunk driving cr...
Ashley Moser & Jared Turner, KSL TV

Sarah Frei Gives Emotional Interview About Losing Legs In Crash

Project Recovery podcast host Casey Scott sat down with Sarah Frei, the young woman who lost both of her legs in a crash caused by a drunk driver.
2 years ago
Coming to understand what Casey Scott’s addiction was truly like for his children only came recen...
Aley Davis & Debbie Worthen, KSL TV

Addiction Through A Daughter’s Eyes: How Teen’s Letter Impacted Casey Scott

Addiction is a family disease. It doesn't just affect the individual struggling, but everyone who loves them. Former KSL-TV feature reporter Casey Scott took that message to heart after reading a paper written by his 16-year-old daughter, Preslee.
2 years ago
promote safe prescription drug use...
Josh Tilton

Helpful ways to promote safe prescription drug use with Know Your Script

SALT LAKE CITY — Between 2017-2020, Intermountain Healthcare has been successful in reducing opioids by 9.5 million fewer pills and reducing benzodiazepine and opioid co-prescribing by 49%. All the while, finding ways to promote safe prescription drug use for Utahns within our state. According to Kim Compagni, AVP Pain Management Services at Intermountain Healthcare, we […]
2 years ago

Sponsored Articles

Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Ask these questions before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Cloud storage technology with 3d rendering drawer with files in cloud...
PC Laptops

How backing up your computer can help you relieve stress

Don't wait for something bad to happen before backing up your computer. Learn how to protect your data before disaster strikes.
young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Idaho author and business owner recounts his journey to sobriety