CHICAGO (CBS) — Tim Ryan started drinking at 13, and was dabbling in drugs soon after.

“I loved to party but I never wanted that party to end,” Ryan said.

He checked himself into rehab at 21.

“You name it, I did it, cocaine, ecstasy, hallucinogens,” he said.

In his early 30’s he tried heroin for the first time.

“That one bag of heroin unleashed a monster,” he said.

A six figure job, a nice house, wife and kids, he was even a Cub Scout leader; but by then, he’d became a full blown heroin addict.

“I was head of my son’s pack, and I was doing heroin every day. No one knew. I was drinking a gallon of Vodka and shooting up $500 of heroin every day,” Ryan recalled.

(Credit: Lisa Fielding)

(Credit: Lisa Fielding)

In December 2010, Ryan had just shot up, when he passed out at the wheel of his minivan, and crashed into two vehicles. Paramedics revived him and he was charged with aggravated DUI, but said that didn’t stop him.

It was then he learned his son, Nick, had become an addict. Soon his son became addicted and they were shooting up together.

“We were using together. Unfortunately, that’s what bonded us,” Ryan said.

He was sentenced to 13 months in prison, his second stint behind bars. By then, he knew it was time to make a change, and he got clean while he did his time. But when he got out, his son was still struggling with the addiction.

Twenty months into Ryan’s sobriety, his son would die of an overdose in 2014.

“I went to a 12 step meeting that night,” he said.

An addiction recovery meeting at Wheatland Salem Church in Naperville. (Credit: Lisa Fielding)

An addiction recovery meeting at Wheatland Salem Church in Naperville. (Credit: Lisa Fielding)

Shortly thereafter, he would start his non-profit, “A Man In Recovery Foundation.”

Now, he spends his days talking to addicts and their families, speaking to school children, intervening and placing addicts in recovery homes, and even going back to the same prison where he did his time to talk to inmates.

“Nick really solidified what I’m doing now,” he said.

Ryan said people can’t keep blaming the drug cartels, and gangs; prevention starts in the home.

“You gotta know what’s happening with your kids,” he said.

Tim Ryan

Tim Ryan

“Parents and kids need to hear the truth. The kids today, even my son Nick didn’t think it would happen to him.”

Ryan tells parents to look for signs. Are your prescription meds missing?

“It starts with pain pills. Dad had them when he hurt his back. Johnny hurt his back playing football. Oh, I got some Vicodin, Percocet, whatever. We’re over-prescribing America. What happens so, so quickly; you just want more. Predominantly, a lot of people that get hooked on Heroin start with prescription pain pills,” he said.

(Photo supplied to CBS)

(Photo supplied to CBS by Tim Ryan)

Now 3 1/2 years sober, Ryan lives for recovery every day, and tries to lead others down the same path.

“I’m sick of burying kids,” he said, holding back tears. “But for the ones I bury, there are the ones I get hope for.”

It’s something he couldn’t do for his son.

“I wish he was here as my partner doing this with me,” he said tearfully. “But he’s with me every day.”

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