A recovering drug addict who trained thousands of people to save overdose victims died Saturday after “he lost his battle with addiction,” his obituary said. He was 40 years old.

Kevin Donovan trained people to use Narcan, a drug that reverses the effects of an overdose. After going through recovery for his own addiction issues, he wanted to teach people to use the drug, according to Wil Murtaugh, Executive Director for ACR Health in Syracuse, New York, where Donovan worked.
Murtaugh said in his two years as a full-time employee, Donovan was “a warrior in Narcan training.” He helped cover nine counties in central New York. Murtaugh said Donovan’s work saved thousands of lives, and took him on the road a lot.
“That’s the sad part, people are very shocked by this,” Murtaugh said. “He would always tell people, ‘never use alone, because people die alone’ and if he was truly hiding this, he wouldn’t have told anyone.”
    Donovan’s doctor, Laura Martin, said he spent over five years with her as a patient, and that he had been drug free for about two years. During that time, she said he got his job at ACR, and he was a single parent to a young son.
    “He’d changed his life so much, a single dad, good member of the community and hard working,” she said.
    Martin described Donovan as a good person, who would work overtime if someone needed help. She said she had not seen him in the past two and a half weeks, and that no one seemed to know the whole story of how he died.
    “He singlehandedly helped so many people in this area, and now people are going to look at him and say, ‘If he can’t do it, how can I?’ and that’s going to be the backlash we are going to have to deal with,” Martin said.
      Donovan was also the founder and director of Healing Hearts Collaborative, an opioid overdose prevention program. In hopes of spreading awareness, Donovan was training people on how to use Narcan, hoping they would go back to their area and increase the network of people who were trained with the life-saving drug.
      His obituary in says he openly shared his struggles with addiction to remove the stigma of the disease and to educate others about treatment options.

      Addiction affects us all. It weakens the fabric of society and it destroys communities. Parents are left with hardly any answers as to why this happened to THEIR CHILD. But no family is exempt. I’ve seen addiction in my family and the results are all the same. The positives from this story is Donovan did what he could to help others and he didn’t take anyone down with him. He tried to be an example and that’s really all that we can ask of any human being.

      The question remains for many users. If Donovan succumbed to his addiction, how are we supposed to fight and win against our struggles?

      Honestly ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. YOU have to believe in yourself. I’ve known people who have kicked habits simply by CHOOSING to change. And they remained sober for years and never touched drugs again. I think the ultimate decision to choose to quit would depend on the reason you started using to begin with. If you’re the person who started because you were partying and trying to have fun, that’s the easy one. You have no hang ups. You’re not blaming anyone. You just chose it as a way of escaping your boring life and you tried recreationally. These people usually have little issue with stopping. The ones who are going to struggle the most are the ones who didn’t think it could happen to them, the ones who used drugs to deal with pain management and those who used drugs to medicate themselves from past trauma.

      Addiction is nothing more than another VICE. SOMETHING that you use to escape your current situation.

      This article is very informative. It deals with the stages of addiction.
      You’ve recognized you have a problem—that your addictive behavior is affecting other parts of your life—and you want to know how to quit an addiction. The chances are that you didn’t expect to become addicted when you started. You may have thought you were just having fun and could quit at any time. Many people who develop addictions are surprised at how difficult they find their first attempt at quitting, and end up wondering, Why can’t I quit?

      The good news is that you can quit, although it is a complicated process. There are many factors, physical, mental, and emotional, that make quitting difficult. This is why so many people find treatment helpful to guide them through the complex process of quitting – although many people are successful quitting on their own.

      Understanding why quitting is so difficult can help you see that everyone overcoming an addiction goes through the same process to some extent. It is not that you are especially weak-willed or that you are failing any more than anyone else. When you find yourself thinking, feeling, or acting in a particular way that goes against your decision to quit, you can be more compassionate with yourself, and keep trying



      Tolerance and withdrawal are key symptoms of addiction. They are strongly interconnected and are the main processes that got you addicted in the first place. If people didn’t develop tolerance and withdrawal, they would probably find it a lot easier to quit.

      Tolerance is a physical and psychological process. When you experience an addictive substance or behavior the first time, it may be overwhelming, unpleasant even, or it may be mild and pleasurable. If the effect feels strong, you may feel there is no danger of you wanting to overdo it. If it is mild, it may seem harmless and innocent.

      The more times the behavior is repeated, the less sensitivity you have to it, and the more you need to get the same effect. Drugs, such as alcohol and opiates, work on specific parts of the brain, creating physical tolerance. Behaviors, such as sex and gambling, produce feelings of excitement that get less intense over time. As tolerance develops, you may want to do more of the drug or behavior to get the same effect.


      As you become addicted, you may experience withdrawal when you aren’t able to do the addictive behavior. Physical withdrawal symptoms may occur, such as shaking, feeling unwell, stomach upsets, and/or psychological withdrawals symptoms, such as feeling anxious and depressed. These are easily fixed by more of the addictive substance or behavior.

      Physical withdrawal from alcohol and drugs can be overcome quite quickly, although it tends to be quite unpleasant and it can be dangerous. If you decide to quit, it is best done under medical supervision. Discuss physical withdrawal with your doctor for the best way to approach this. Once you have been through withdrawal, there are deeper psychological processes that make it difficult to stay “on the wagon.”

      Blocks to Quitting: Conflict and Ambivalence

      When your addictive behavior becomes excessive to the point of creating conflict, it is out of balance with other parts of your life. Conflict may occur within yourself – you want to rein in your behavior while, at the same time, have greater urges to do it. Conflicts also occur with other people: whether they want you to quit or want you to join them in the addictive behavior.

      Despite making a commitment to quit, and going through the withdrawal phase, conflicts do not simply go away. Expectations are higher than ever before. The one thing you depended on to cope with stress—the addictive behavior—is now off limits.

      This is why it is so important to have other ways of coping firmly established, ideally before quitting. A therapist will help you with this. Without coping strategies in place, you are likely to experience strong urges to go back to the addictive behavior “one more time.” Relationship support can help you deal with and avoid conflicts without using your addictive behavior for comfort and escape.

      Ambivalence, the mixed feelings of both wanting to continue with the addictive behavior and wanting to quit, is part of the addictive process even in the early stages of experimentation. Often, this is felt in terms of “right” and “wrong,” a moral dilemma, especially in relation to sexual and illegal behaviors. In some cases, guilt feelings are appropriate; in others, they are not.

      Guilt and Justification

      The discomfort of these feelings of guilt when your behavior doesn’t fit with your own standards of right and wrong can be a strong motivator to make changes. Sometimes it can work against you, causing you to justify your behavior to yourself and other people. This can get in the way of the decision to quit.

      Some common justifications are:

      • Denial: “It’s not a problem.”
      • Demurring or minimization: “I have already cut down.”
      • Diversion: “Pollution is more dangerous.” “Uncle Ted drinks far more than I do.”
      • Defiance: “I would rather live a shorter life and be happy than quit and be miserable.”
      • Idealization: “I am way more sociable when I’ve had a drink.”
      • Rationalization: “I’ve never stolen to finance my habit,” “I’ve never hit a woman.”
      • Lesser of two evils: “Better I do it than I be impossible to live with.”
      • Misinformation: “Cancer doesn’t run in my family.” “It has medicinal uses, so it’s OK.” “Chocolate is the only cure for PMS.”
      • Taking behavior out of context: “In some cultures, polygamy is acceptable.”
      • Glorification: “Queen Victoria used to…” “Patriarchs in the Old Testament had many wives.” “Jesus drank wine.”

      What I discovered about myself was my own personal crutch. For many people, religion is the cure all. For me, it put the responsibility of my actions in the hands of a God that I could not see. And for years and years and years I struggled with some of the same issues over and over again. It was very frustrating for me because I consider myself to be a moderately strong person but for some strange reason there were just habits that I could not stop. And it seemed like the moment I would fall weak to my vices I would cry out to God or pray and it would help for a short period of time, But ultimately I would go back into those same destructive patterns and habits. And then all of a sudden one day I discovered atheism. And Atheism basically took away God and it put me in charge of my own life and my own destiny. And it taught me that I’m responsible for my own actions and that there was no higher power that was going to help me, but that I needed to help myself.

      It taught me that I had the strength, the power, the knowledge, to do it all on my own if I stayed committed to it and if I believed in myself. So there was no repentance anymore, there was no falling on my knees crying out to God saying I’m sorry for what I did and I’m sorry that I messed up again. There was no guilt. It was just me accepting responsibility for my choices and my actions and realizing that I have the power within me to control my behavior. It was ultimately just me having to be forced to grow up.

      In my experience it seemed that as soon as there was no longer a god crutch, there was no longer a man in the sky that I was asking to help me, I realized that all of my problems subsided.

      I remember being a Christian and hearing many statements.


      Please be patient with me God is not through with me yet, statements of God is molding and shaping me, statements that reaffirm that we are all sinners saved by grace, statements that reaffirm that I am weak and because of my weakness God is made strong, statements that we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God, singing songs like Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a Wretch like Me.

      All of those negatives were brainwashed and etched into my mind and it gave me the impression that I was weak and I was basically a nobody without God and that I just really couldn’t do anything without him. But I have since learned that that’s not true, but I am very powerful, and that I am capable of doing many things if I put my mind to it.

      For many people religion is their rescue. And I guess if that is what it takes to get you clean and to get you sober is having a dependence on God then by all means do what you have to do. But in my experience I don’t like to answer to anyone but me for my success or my failures. And if I fuck up, I have to look in the mirror and answer to me and nobody else.

      I’m not the person who likes to make excuses for my actions so therefore I continue to always be accountable to me.

      My recommendation is for everybody to choose their path, but choose your path wisely. You make sure that whatever you are leaning on to help you in your sobriety that you are using your own will power and that you understand that you have the strength to do this on your own. Everything that you need inside of you to quit is already present. The only thing you need to do is tap into it.