homepage logo

Beyond Bars: Grateful to be out of prison — and alive — this Memorial Day

By Brian Wood, Beyond Bars Columnist - | May 28, 2018

Today is Memorial Day. It’s a day originally set aside for those men and women who laid down their lives for our country; however, it’s become a day to remember any loved ones lost.

In the last month alone, three people that I knew personally, lost their lives from drugs. According to a report from Police Executive Research Forum, more Americans died from drug overdoses in 2016 than the number of Americans lives lost in the entirety of the Vietnam War. These are fathers, mothers, children, brothers and sisters.

Recently, a girl who read my articles contacted me through Facebook. She wished me luck and shared a little of her experiences. She had lost two brothers to drugs and explained to me how lots of peopled were rooting for me. It was quite sweet and very well written. I don’t always respond when contacted, but in this case, I didn’t respond out of a sense of guilt. I had used drugs with her brother. In fact, I was with her brother the first time I was arrested. A week later, on Mother’s Day, I heard from a friend, a third brother from that same family died from an overdose. My heart breaks for that sister, that mother, and the rest of their family.

I’m sure because of the world I’ve exposed myself to, I will continue to regularly hear about people I knew dying, but this is not just a problem for the underbelly of society. This horrible epidemic costs some much more than others, but make no mistake, our country is losing the war on drugs. I was told when I went to prison, that it was like there was a death in the family. Except there wasn’t. As long as people are alive, there is hope. My best friend in high school just went back to prison for drug possession and I see it as an opportunity for him to get free of drugs.

My personal opinion on the subject is I’d rather have my friends or family members incarcerated than addicted to drugs. I could easily not be here right now. It’s hard to quantify how close I actually came to death, but numerous times, I would lose consciousness after shooting up heroin, and would intentionally take enough cocaine to give myself seizures.

The other day, I was able to attend my son’s baseball game for the first time. It just so happened that he hit his first ever home run. What a wonderful experience! Sometimes it’s quite surreal, thinking where I was a year ago and how the things I am doing now were the things I was dreaming about then. But at least then, I had dreams.

Six years ago, I was addicted to drugs, homeless, and not welcome around my family. I didn’t dream then, I was busy living a nightmare. I am grateful to no longer be incarcerated, but even more grateful to be alive.

-In memory of loved ones lost.

Brian Wood, of Layton, pleaded guilty to nine felony charges for offenses from 2011 to 2014, including counts of burglary, drug possession and prescription fraud. He served four years in the Utah State prison system before being released on parole on Jan. 2, 2018.


Join thousands already receiving our daily newsletter.

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)