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Recovering addict says getting arrested was the best thing that ever happened to him

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Logan Celner | Courtesy photo

AMMON — Ending up in handcuffs is the last thing anyone wants, but for a 26-year-old man, it turned his life around.

“It sucked, but being arrested was the best thing that ever happened to me,” Logan Celner told EastIdahoNews.com. “I’m just grateful for it.”

In January, the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office arrested Celner at an Ammon grocery store after he admitted to stealing over-the-counter medications to get high for about two years. Since his arrest, Celner has remained sober and he hopes his story will help others struggling with addiction.

“By the time I was finally caught, it was a relief to be able to tell somebody,” Celner said. “That’s why I told (deputies) everything. I was like, ‘I know I need help.'”

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Celner grew up in Bonneville County, attending local schools while participating actively in sports. He recalled taking prescription pills on and off since 2010 before it developed into opiate addiction.

“It got to the point where I had opiates available during a period of time and had been taking them frequently,” Celner said. “After I stopped, I got a little taste of withdrawals.”

After some online research, Celner said he discovered over the counter anti-diarrheal medication gave him an escape from the withdrawals. The use of the over-the-counter medication grew, and at the height of his addiction, he took the pills twice a day.

Celner is not alone when struggling with addiction. The Consumer Healthcare Products Association reports a small but growing number of people consuming high doses of the anti-diarrheal medication to self-manage opioid withdrawal or to get high.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare served 3,695 substance use and disorder clients in 2019. The department reports these clients were uninsured and below 200 percent of the federal poverty limit. However, the exact number of people with some form of addiction across Idaho remains unknown.

“Idaho does not currently have a central repository that collects substance use disorder data from multiple sources,” IDHW spokeswoman Niki Forbing-Orr said. “Even if we did, that would only tell us how many people have accessed services, not how many people struggle with addiction. … Also, many people with a substance use disorder are not going to report having one because they may be in denial.”

A secret life

Addiction led to a decline in Celner’s health. He stayed depressed, losing all motivation to do what he enjoyed. After losing a job, Celner then began stealing the medication from the local grocer to keep the drug within reach.

“I didn’t have the courage to go and tell anybody,” Celner said. “Definitely not my family, not my friends. It’s hard to tell anybody something like that. It’s shameful. For one, ‘I’m an addict,’ but secondly, ‘I’m now a thief.'”

Dr. Matt Larsen, a psychiatrist at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center’s Behavioral Health Center, said many people hide their addictions, wanting to keep their outside appearance pleasing to others.

“We all hide the stuff we’re not proud of,” Larsen said. “One key to getting out of it is making it so it’s not a secret, so at least someone knows.”

Celner said his arrest allowed him the chance to share his struggle with those around him. He described sharing his battle as a weight lifting from his shoulders, releasing him from the “prison” addiction put him in. Celner said sharing his struggle with others gave him the support to stay clean.

“I’m very lucky because I’ve had a lot of support, way more than I ever thought I would’ve gotten,” Celner said. “Some people don’t get any. Just one person having compassion … makes the world of difference.”

Having friends around him serves as a motivator, Celner said. It gives him people to hold himself accountable and a chance to prove he can stay away from his addiction. He also said finding others who have struggled with addiction proved to be instrumental in his recovery.

“Honestly, it’s really hard to go to counseling and therapy to people who have not actually experienced (addiction), Celner said. “For me, AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) has been a really awesome thing because you are with people who get it. It might not exactly be what you’re struggling with, but they still understand the struggle.”

Larsen said people don’t have to go through a 12-step program like AA to free themselves from an addiction, but it really helps. Not only does it allow people a chance to remove the secrecy of the addiction, but he says it gives addicts the chance to connect with people in similar situations.

“Their judgment is much less, and they know things that can help,” Larsen said. “They are not judging you, they are judging the situation … It’s easier to take advice from somebody who’s been there and understands it and isn’t calling you a bad person.”

Logan Celner stopped by at the EastIdahoNews.com newsroom to share his story with addiction.

An eye-opening experience

With keeping his addiction a secret, Celner said he had no idea what to expect while striving for sobriety. He feared experiencing withdrawals because he didn’t know how it would impact his life or his future. Celner was accustomed to getting high and forgetting the little things in life. But Celner says reaching sobriety gave him a new life. The ability to think clearly and have a sense of smell are particularly rewarding for him.

“There have just been so many benefits since getting sober. That has been a huge eye-opener,” Celner said. “All the crap that comes with using the drug is not worth the trade-off.”

Celner also faced the harsh reality of being charged with a crime. On July 20, District Judge Dane Watkins placed Celner on four years of felony probation after he pleaded guilty to burglary.

Celner described he had the option to spend 14 days in jail with a withheld judgment in the case, meaning the conviction would come off his criminal record. But Celner says probation was the best option for him.

“I’m very fortunate for the sentencing I got,” Celner said.

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As part of probation, Celner said he needs to go to counseling, maintain a job, plan to receive an education and perform community service. He said being on probation gives him the chance to continue to show his progress.

“I enjoy doing things with my family again,” Celner said. “I enjoy telling them that I’m doing really good and I’m not BS’ing.”

Moving forward with life

Celner’s addiction caught the eye of more than family members. In January, the sheriff’s office announced his arrest, which was circulated on multiple media outlets. Hundreds of people commented, some showing support and others leaving negative thoughts.

He said having his story in the news could provide a perfect excuse not to stay sober and feel crappy, but for him, it’s motivation “to keep doing good.”

“I put myself in that position,” Celner said. “I made the choice to get me arrested, to have to go through court, get sentenced and have to face the punishment … There’s nobody who can make it right but me. I’m going to use all of this to make it right.”

Celner hopes people will see his story, especially those struggling with their own addiction, and find hope.

“I would love for people who are going through (addiction) to talk to me about it,” Celner said. “To be able to use my experience for good would be awesome.”

A Facebook post Logan Celner made in early July expressing his desire to help others struggling with addiction.

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