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TEDx Billings speaker inspires with story of addiction and recovery

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Posted at 12:03 PM, Oct 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-06 14:03:29-04

BILLINGS — It was eight years ago on a lonely street in Laurel where Adam Gunton overdosed on fentanyl in his car and had to be pulled out by Laurel police officers. They had to break the window to grab his unresponsive body.

He's now sober and the founder of Recovered On Purpose, a nonprofit that helps empower those struggling in their own recovery process.

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November 6, 2015 was one of the lowest points in Gunton’s life.

“I shot up. I thought it was bunk. I didn’t feel anything. And then I remember starting to drive off and then I woke up right here on the asphalt with broken glass and police and blue, red lights all around me,” Gunton said after a recent visit to that same spot in Laurel.

It’s hard to imagine that Gunton is the same person in the body cam footage he shared with MTN.

But the 34-year-old Colorado native was introduced to cocaine when he was just 12. It's something that changed his life forever.

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Adam Gunton

“Since 2011, I was starting businesses, I was doing door-to-door sales. I was really good at doing things like that. I was able to make six figures while I was using IV drugs,” Gunton said.

Gunton moved to Billings in 2014.

Two years later he was homeless and found himself bouncing around Billings from shelter to shelter, even staying in an abandoned house with 15 other people.

"It got to a point where I literally, audibly, said to God, 'I'm done. I’m not going to any of these meetings anymore. I'm not going to probation. Like, just let me die, please,'” said Gunton.

But Gunton faced a turning point in his life and he said it all began at a Billings restaurant where he received a text from his drug dealer.

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Adam pets his dog, Enzo.

“I looked back up and Jesus is sitting across from me. The entire restaurant had completely disappeared. There was a bright light coming from behind him. He was smiling at me,” Gunton said.

He said that experience gave him the power and motivation to begin a 12-step recovery process.

“I came up here to the Rims on day 25 sober and I did my first ever fifth step, which is where you confess everything to your sponsor and stuff like that. Woke up in the morning and the obsession had completely left me and it hasn’t come back since,” said Gunton.

Since then it’s been milestone after milestone. In 2019 wrote his bestselling book, from Chains to Saved, then founded his nonprofit, Recovered on Purpose, to help others facing similar struggles.

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"We use social media and content and videos and things to reach to the lost and suffering, the people hurting, with different stories about recovery to attract them and make them feel understood and heard,” Gunton said.

The non-profit even provides a 50-state resource guide for those suffering from addiction who don’t have private insurance or can't afford resources.

“We connect them with everything in their area whether it be, maybe it’s a fellowship. Maybe they need to go to some AA meetings or NA meetings," said Gunton.

And his inspirational story will now have a large audience. He’s been selected to deliver a TEDx talk in Billings.

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Adam Gunton

“Since 2019, I've had a picture of a TEDx stage on my vision board, dreaming of an idea worth spreading,” Gunton said.

A dream come true and one he was able to tell his dad about just five days before he passed in 2022.

“Envisioning the moment I'm going to be on that stage and sharing this message and thinking of the people that are going to be there. Thinking of the people that are going to hear the message, and are going to change their life and help millions of other people. It helped me through that difficult time,” said Gunton.

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Adam Gunton

And he has a message for those suffering from addiction.

“The journey you’re going through now, you’re going to overcome it. And then you’re going to have a superpower to help others with your story of overcoming,” Gunton said.