June 29, 2021 – “In some ways, this is very personal and I can totally respect somebody’s feeling like, ‘this is my business, it doesn’t affect what I do.’ I feel about it differently,” Perice said.

“My congregants trust me. Who am I to not trust them? I feel like I’m honoring that trust by telling them something like this about myself, and I think that’s a very important part of this, honoring the trust people have put in me.”

Using to ‘feel normal’

Perice’s addiction began as many do: with a car accident, chronic back pain and a prescription for Vicodin.

The accident happened in 2007 when Perice was an undergraduate student at Temple University in Philadelphia and on track for a career in politics. While the Vicodin helped his back pain, he found himself needing higher and higher doses as his tolerance for the original dose increased. When his doctor tried to get him to cut back, he began “doctor shopping,” seeking new physicians to prescribe more pain killers. Eventually he bypassed the doctors altogether to buy pills, until he was taking up to 80 milligrams of OxyContin each day.

Perice said the pills were never about getting high.

“I was dealing with depression and anxiety, like a lot of people in their early 20s, and I think for some reason, when I would take opiates for this pain, it would seem to just calm me down,” Perice said. After taking pills for a certain amount of time, he said, “you’re taking it to feel normal.”



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