Timothy Ryan, who grew up in Berkeley Heights, wrote his own story of addiction in “Chronic Junkie, A Story of Addition, Despair, Unconditional Love, Hope and Triumph.” WABC will be featuring his story in an upcoming special Protect Our Children: Effects of the Pandemic on Saturday, May 8th at 7 p.m. The special shines a light on this issue and provides guidance to survivors on how to reach educators and professionals who can be of help.
Ryan had an ideal upbringing. He was born into a loving family, had many friends, grew up in a nice neighborhood (Berkeley Heights), and received a good education. Still, none of that was enough to prevent him from falling into the clutches of addiction.
Ryan’s journey with drugs and alcohol began at age 13, and he shares his accomplishment of how he obtained his graduate degree and is a caseworker helping others in recovery. What many considered to be typical teenage experimentation, such as smoking pot and drinking alcohol at parties, quickly led down a dark path that cost him everything. Ryan went from having the world at his feet to homeless, living on the streets, and addicted to heroin.
“There were times when we were sitting by the phone just waiting for the phone call asking us to come identify the body,” said Ryan’s father Dennis. “It is a story that can give you hope.”
News anchor Shirleen Allicot will host the special that focuses on the continued impact the pandemic has had on youth with advice from professionals on how we can address and improve the mental, emotional and physical health of youth.
The special will also feature stories including: The energy of a 20-year-old who has been in multiple group homes since the age of 4 and survived a period of incarceration in Rikers is inspiring; and a tribute to the organizations and social workers who are stepping up to help youth in need.