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Colorado musician in recovery after 5 fentanyl overdoses

“Be willing to die if you’re going to take that pill," he said. "Be willing to die. 'Cause it’s probably going to happen. If not right then, then eventually it will"

CENTENNIAL, Colo. — In Jamie Ethridge's life, music is the constant.

But for many years, so were drugs.

"I had been into kind of like party drugs like marijuana, cocaine, stuff like that, but yeah, I got into opiates hard when I was about 19," said the now 35-year-old.

Ethridge, a drummer, toured around the world with bands as a teenager and young adult. 

He played with the band Scary Kids Scaring Kids on the traveling music festival Warped Tour.

“The singer for this band was like my best friend, and I lost him to a heroin overdose as well," Ethridge said.

He stopped doing opioids for a few years, but more recently found himself cutting up those blue pills full of illicit fentanyl.

“I was clean for so long and that was like the love of my life," Ethridge said. "So it's like getting back with an ex-girlfriend that you thought was the only person you could be with, so that’s how opiates was for me." 

The addiction took hold quickly once again, and this time it was even more deadly with fentanyl. 

“As a heroin addict you want whatever the strongest thing you can find is, and that’s definitely fentanyl," he said. 

Ethridge said he overdosed four times in six months.  

"My mom found me two times, and my younger brother found me once at the house, and we were coming home from work one day and I had gotten a little bit of pure fentanyl and I went out in the car and I woke up in the hospital," he said.

But Ethridge said a few hours after he woke up at the hospital, he used fentanyl again. 

The fifth time he overdosed, he woke up in the ICU of Parker Adventist hospital. He was surprised to wake up.

“I was like clinically dead, and was in the ICU for three days on what they call a Narcan drip," Ethridge said. 

While he was addicted, Ethridge knew he could die, but he said he didn't care.

Something changed after that last stay in the hospital, and he went to a treatment facility and connected with the director.

It's been nine months since the last day Ethridge almost died, and he's living at a sober house in Centennial.

He said his treatment has helped him understand what got him addicted in the first place. 

"It’s the clearest it’s been in 15 years," he said. "I feel good. I wake up feeling good. I’m surrounded by good people."

This time, music is helping him heal, and he's discovered a passion in music therapy. 

“I’m working at a couple different treatment centers right now, and it’s a really beautiful thing to help people through recovery with music," Ethridge said. 

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