Understanding Addiction: William Liberatore

BillLiberatoreST. JOHNSBURY - William Liberatore started experimenting with drugs when he was only 13 years old. His drug-use started with marijuana, but quickly evolved into abusing Phencyclidine, and eventually prescription pills. For most of his teen years, Liberatore was in and out juvenile detention centers for drug-related crimes.

After serving a year in jail at the age of 17, he decided to make a change. He became sober and got himself a job as a maintenance worker at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Unfortunately, his progress took a turn one night when he was attacked and stabbed on campus, as the incident led him to prescription pills.

"It was a winter storm and it was probably one o'clock in the morning. I had my shovel and I was coming out of an alley, and six people- they attacked me and stabbed me, and I was rushed to Boston City Hospital in critical condition. After that, I was put on Oxycontin. I didn't realize what a problem- here we go again, pills," he said.

After the accident Liberatore had a tooth problem which led him to even more prescriptions. Describing his dentist as crooked, Liberatore stated that he had a collection of any kind of pill you could imagine. "I just had to pay for it and he'd order them. So, I got involved really heavy into selling and buying."

Liberatore described his drug-dependency, stating that he became so reliant that he took a course in Latin in order to write his own prescriptions. Nevertheless, he knew his lifestyle wasn't healthy, and that continuing on the same track would lead to a more serious addiction, and potential prison sentencing. "I knew at that point it was just too much. You take six months of Latin to get high, that's way overboard."

At that point in his life, Liberatore had moved to Vermont where he became involved with local recovery clinics. "I'm clean, I've been in recovery for a long time now. But I'm not going to sit here and tell you I don't get urges. I do. It's the point where you've just got to back up and think and say, 'Wait, all that's at stake.'"

In Liberatore's opinion, prescriptions and painkillers should be taken more seriously as an avenue for addiction, stating that 85 percent of the addicts he knows personally struggle with those types of substances. "What Vermont has done with the opioid limit prescriptions, limit the quantity you're getting, the same thing should be done with the stimulants. Same thing, because that problem is going to be a political thing too just like the opiates. It's just a matter of time."

When asked what motivates him to maintain his healthy lifestyle, Liberatore discussed his family and friends. "Being around here makes me feel good- around a positive clean environment. Seeing my counselor Pam, and just being around a positive environment and my son. After I pay my rent and bills, knowing I can do that, that really makes me not want to use."

Pt. 1. Understanding Addiction: Zach Rhoads

Pt. 3. Understanding Addiction: Cynthia Boyd

Pt. 4. Understanding Addiction: Mike Lucier

Pt. 5. Understanding Addiction: Tennyson Marceau


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