If you’re a competitive snowboarder in the Steamboat Winter Sports Club for over a decade, you’re probably going to shatter more than a few bones.
And when you’re in the hospital for your many surgeries over the years, you’re probably going to receive opiates to manage your pain.
Charlie Peddie was 12 when he busted his kneecap at USASA Nationals at Mammoth Mountain. He was given 20-milligram Oxycontin tablets for pain control after surgery. Though he was just a kid, he vividly remembers the feeling the opiate instilled inside him. “It got me thinking, ‘Hey, this is a chemical that reacts well with your brain, and your body seems to like it.’”
Over the next six years, Charlie won a couple of national title championships and came very close to qualifying for the pro circuit. He also suffered many more snowboarding injuries and was prescribed lots of different painkillers. Still, he didn’t start using them recreationally, even though many of his high school friends did.
But in his freshman year of college, drugs were everywhere. “I remember sitting in a friend’s dorm room, playing Halo, and somebody pulled out some pills and offered me an oxy. They said to be careful because it was potent, but I laughed and said I’d been taking them my entire life.”
By the time Charlie was a sophomore, he and his roommates were popping oxy all the time. Some friends made the move to heroin. Charlie watched as peers dropped out of school because of their habit. Some died. “Yet even while watching my friends all slip away into darkness, it never occurred to me that I would end up the same way, because I was Charlie Peddie,” he said. “I was different from everyone else.”
Ironically, Charlie’s delusion about his perceived invincibility was reinforced when as a senior in college, he suffered an especially traumatic leg injury and was on serious pain meds for two months. After that, he focused on getting healthier. He quit drinking. He quit painkillers and recreational drugs. “You’d think that injury would have turned me toward drugs, but it turned me the other way,” he said.