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Six months clean, recovering heroin addict Jason Amaral works to help others

Jason's journey
Recovering heroin addict reaches milestone 05:00

We met Jason Amaral on March 22, the day before he started rehab. He was roaming the city of Boston on a desperate hunt for drugs.

That morning, we watched as he crushed and snorted pills from a toilet seat in city hall, scored some drugs outside a restaurant around noon and, by that evening, ended up at a friend’s house shooting up again.

A day in the life of a heroin addict 05:41

“It gets boring. It gets old. It gets tiring,” he said. “The past four and a half years, it’s been misery.”

That night, Jason’s best friend Mike Duggan, a recovering addict seven years clean, came to take him to rehab.

“You will die if you don’t get it this time,” Mike said in the car.

“I’ve overdosed eight times bro,” said Jason.

“Nobody wants you dead, man,” Mike replied.

We traveled to Mays Landing, New Jersey for the first stage of Jason’s treatment at Recovery Centers of America, or RCA.

“I’ve smoked crack every day for the past three months,” he told a woman at the center. “I honestly don’t know how to live a normal life sober, I really don’t. I don’t know how to deal with life.”

A heroin addict's emotional first days in rehab 04:57

“Like who would want life like that? After the footage you’ve seen, like who would wanna live like that? But like it’s not really what I wanna do it’s just what the … you could say what the drug drives me to do, I guess,” he said to us.

Then he asked us to stop filming, overcome with emotion.

Jason’s first 24 hours of detox were a struggle. He’d just learned his brother Andrew -- who is also a heroin addict -- couldn’t find a bed for treatment.

His brother’s struggles motivated him to beat his addiction.

And after four weeks of counseling, medication, and physical therapy, he was one step closer to his goal.

“I just feel a lot better than I felt when I first got here and like what I thought I was going to feel like in 14 to 21 days,” Jason said on his last day.

After he finished up at RCA, Jason transitioned to a second program, at Awakenings Lodge on Cape Cod.

Jason in a group session at Awakenings Lodge CBS News

There, addicts live off-site from the main treatment center so they can learn to live sober without constant supervision.

Jason was drug tested at least once a week, and participated in more therapy.

After six weeks, he graduated.

Four months later, we caught up with Jason. He is now living with other recovering addicts in Mashpee, Massachusetts.

And he is now more than six months clean.

Jason Amaral, six months clean, reflects on his recovery 03:15

Jason now has a full time job at a restaurant. He’s also advocating to get addicts like him more help.

He was recently invited to speak in front of Massachusetts lawmakers.

As for Jason’s friend Mike Duggan, the one who got him into rehab, he was the first person Jason thanked.

“We’ve been friends for a long time and this isn’t like the first opportunity that he’s given me. And in the past, I haven’t been able to stay clean. And I’m just glad he gave me another chance to do this.” Jason said.

Jason and Mike Duggan embrace CBS News

Jason was recently offered a new job working for RCA at one of their Massachusetts locations.

Earlier this month, his brother Andrew began his rehab program at an RCA location in Maryland.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, resources are available. Visit one of the links below:

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