Reformed gang members working to end Utah’s opioid crisis

Local News
SANDY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – Two ex-convicts who have spent more than 20 years in prison combined, have teamed up to help end Utah’s prescription drug problem.
“I’ve been walking down the streets of the shelter, I’ve gone to crack hotels and seen people slamming needles into their arms or smoking crack in front of me and it doesn’t really trigger me — instead I feel empathy for these people,” explained Damian Trujillo, Co-Founder and CEO of Inspiro Recovery Center. 
Trujillo is describing someone else’s story, but it’s one he is all too familiar with. After spending a good portion of his life in and out of prison and addicted to drugs and alcohol, Trujillo is now a Certified Substance Use Disorder Counselor and a well-known Recovery Advocate.
“I feel like it’s my duty to tell people look, this is where I’ve been, this is what I’ve done and this is where I’m at now,” Trujillo told ABC4 Utah’s Brittany Johnson.
That’s why Trujillo started the Inspiro Recovery Center with his friend Kenny O’Rourke, a former addict who also spent years in prison before becoming a husband and father of three.
“We didn’t really have any hope,” said O’Rourke. “We used to sit in prison and imagine this beautiful life we wanted to have and it was a dream — we didn’t believe in it at all.”
The ex-gang members are now working with legislators and other treatment centers to advocate for laws and help aid in recovery.
“Everybody needs to come to the table and say what can we do to affect change because right now we’re in a state of crisis,” O’Rourke said.
Both men believe lawmakers want to see a change throughout our state. That’s why they invited lawmakers, other treatment centers and business professionals to an open house Tuesday to talk solutions.
“I think that they’re looking for an answer just like we’re looking for an answer but the difference is we’re out there doing the groundwork,” said Trujillo. “I feel like we’re in the trenches.”
Trujillo says he of all people knows what addicts are going through. He says most people want help, they just don’t know where to go.
“I know what it’s like to want to kill yourself, I know what it’s like to want to change and not be able to change, and look at me now.”
If you or someone you know needs help and wants to get in contact with the Inspiro Recovery Center, click here.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.