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Coal Miner Crawls Out of Addiction, Back Into the Light

He's clean now, but not long ago, Jasen Edwards says he spent $21,000 on pain pills in 11 days. (Jasen Edwards)
He's clean now, but not long ago, Jasen Edwards says he spent $21,000 on pain pills in 11 days. (Jasen Edwards)
December 3, 2018

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Jasen Edwards is a coal miner who beat a $1,000-a-day pain pill habit - he says, just by knowing he wanted something better.

Edwards lost a leg in a mine accident that introduced him to Oxycontin. He said within a couple of years he had lost everything, and was living in an abandoned building, considering suicide. Edwards crawled out of that hole, detoxing himself and getting clean while living with his ex-wife and her new fiancé - without the help of a program or medical assistance from Methadone or Suboxone. He said there’s hope for anyone.

"You have to find something that you love more than the high that you're experiencing. To every addict out there, you do not have to live like this,” Edwards said. “If you need to talk to me, call me. I don't care who you are, but you do not have to live like this anymore."

Research has shown those battling addiction are much more likely to make it with medical assistance and counseling. The federal addiction hotline number is 1-800-662-HELP and help is available at

Edwards is now an underground mine section foreman, in fact, he worked as a miner during much of his addiction. He said he told himself he wasn't a junkie because he went to work every day and needed the pills for pain in his leg. He said he knew he had a problem when withdrawal made it impossible to go to work one day.

Edwards said a big part of recovery has been rebuilding relationships.

"It's the simple things. It's like my ex-wife or anybody in my family wouldn't trust me. I would come over to their house, they would hide purses,” he recalled. “I went from nobody trusting me to being, like, 'Hey, can you watch my house for a week? We're going on vacation.' That means more than people think it does."

Edwards said he has to be careful not to celebrate his sobriety too much, because he doesn't want to take it for granted. But he said now it feels good just to be normal every day. As he put it, he learned how to enjoy life without being high.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV