Michael Cavallo grew up just outside of Boston, Massachusetts. After injuries cut short his senior year as a college hockey player, Michael pursued a career in the music business.
Throughout his 15-year career, he struggled with addiction, narrowly escaping death a few times. In 2016, Michael went to treatment in New Jersey and has remained sober since. Dedicating his life to helping others who struggle with the disease of addiction, in December 2017, he became a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist. In 2018, Michael won the Knock Out Opioid Abuse Songwriting Contest.
Using his Artistry to make a difference and inviting us all to "Take a Stand Together", he performs his winning song and shares his story at many community recovery events. Michael speaks and performs original songs at schools and various community outreach programs in the hopes of preventing others from succumbing to this deadly disease. Michael understands the struggle of addiction, and the power of recovery
HE SAW SOMETHING THAT NO FATHER SHOULD HAVE TO SEE
He ran towards those cops he ran into that men’s room and saw something that no father should have to see and that was me lying with my arms spread out on the floor my head against the toilet, blue, not breathing, just in full blown overdose.
It’s rush hour on a Friday morning at Logan airport, people are screaming and running out of the bathroom. My mother is screaming outside of the bathroom. My father has to get down on his hands and knees and wipe all the shit away from my face and give me mouth to mouth resuscitation
IT WOULD TAKE ANOTHER 8 YEARS
I didn’t end up getting sober until June 28, 2016 it would take another 8 years, it would take another 30+ detoxes, it would take another 10 long term treatment centers in six different states, it would take multiple overdoes, it would take getting hep c, it would take getting cellulitis, it would take getting mercer, it would take getting hospitalized, it would take being homeless, it would take completely decimating my family, it would take completely alienating myself from any friend or anyone who has ever cared about me and turning into just someone that I am not.
MISINFORMED BY THE MISINFORMED
It was beaten into me and I don't say that metaphorically, I was beaten down to within an inch of my life. You know they say, there is so many different sayings in the program like sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. It was just slowly for me.
It was surprising to a lot of people because I presented well for a long time and that is what I had the opportunity to speak at a bunch of high schools in Morris County is that I came from a county very similar to this, Plymouth County outside of Boston is a middle to upper class area, I had every opportunity I wasn’t homeless I had both my parents. I went to public high school, catholic high school, I went to prep school. I was a good athlete too it enabled me to do that. I play hockey through high school into prep school and into college.
I did have some pretty severe knee surgeries that introduced me to painkillers when I was about 18 years old. It would be easy for me to blame that, to blame the conception of Oxycontin in 1996 which I do feel for other reasons feel like pharmaceutical companies do need to be held accountable for all of the death and destruction that has ensued since 1996 but I am not going to blame my personal experience on that.
So what led to that was I was misinformed by the misinformed. I didn’t really pay attention that much, like my head was kind of always in the clouds. Which isn’t a bad thing, my head is still in the clouds today but my feet are on the ground and there is a difference. My head was in the clouds and I kinda felt like when God handed out the instructions for life, that I missed that class. Like when they sent me down to earth or however it happens and I kinda just followed along like whatever oh yeah I should go play hockey at this school and I just didn’t really know and like if you told me that something worked I would try it. Whether it was a cigarette, whether it was tobacco, whether it was a joint, whether it was a beer, whether it was a pill, whether it was a line and eventually whether it was a syringe or a crack pipe or whatever. If you said you got something out of this that was worth trying then I was willing to take that chance.
Why? Because I just didn’t like the way that I felt about me. And I didn’t know that I didn’t like the way that I felt about myself. I was just forever uncomfortable. So what separates me from somebody who doesn’t pick up I am not really sure but I don’t have to be today and that was what I was trying to figure out for so long Why Why Why Why Why And I don’t know why I have a physical allergy that causes me to not be able to put down something once I pick it up but I know I have it.
YOU ARE NOT A BAD GUY
Luckily I did have that friend that understands this disease, he understands that this is not a moral issue. He understands that his friend is sick, that his friend wants to get better so he is just going to keep showing me love and tolerance, which is preached in the fellowship that I am in and it is preached in recovery. It’s really the most powerful tool to be loving and tolerant. It is not accepting unacceptable behavior but it is like I understand I get it. You are worth it. You are not a bad guy.
IT IS NOT JUST ABOUT RECOVERY
It’s not just about recovery. It is about dealing with personal relationships, getting a job and showing up for it. Learning how to budget your finances and food shopping when you have little money. Between my social workers, the Milestone House and CARES in Rockaway, I was surrounded by positive people that taught me how to show up for life.
I STARTED TO FIND MY PEACE
I say a rosary everyday, so I started coming here and I would sit different places different benches different picnic tables and say my rosary every day. This park right here is kind of like where I am, I started to find my peace from the outside world so it means a lot to me.
I SAT AT THESE PICNIC TABLES AND TALKED WITH PEOPLE WHO ARE NO LONGER ALIVE
I sat at these picnic tables and talked with people who are no longer alive now. It’s sad, I have lost 7 friends since the end of 2017. It’s a lot. And that is just this year.