Most lawyers can only imagine what it feels like to face a jail sentence. Rick Dyer, a Newton attorney who specializes in the intersection of law and addiction recovery, has lived it many times over. In an interview with Boston Public Radio Wednesday, Dyer described his unlikely trajectory from drug abuse and crime to becoming a veteran lawyer living “a life of gratitude.” Dyer now practices in the same courtroom in which he was sentenced, using his experience with addiction and rehabilitation to help individuals who stand where he once stood.

Dyer called himself an “all-American average kid,” remembering a traditional upbringing in Allston/Brighton punctuated by candles and rosary beads. Soon enough, Boy Scouts and hockey gave way to sneaking out, stealing, and experimenting with drugs, which Dyer started at 14 years old. “We didn’t see the destruction that was about to happen,” he said, “and it did.”

An adolescence riddled with addiction ensued, reaching a climax when Dyer was 19 and a heavy heroin user. After being carried into Charles Street Jail and facing the unavailability of medication or counseling, he “got sick and tired of being sick and tired.” The support of his family, Judge Charles Artesani, and Former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis bolstered him to continue his education, and he went on to earn his GED, college, and law degrees, despite the doubt and judgement cast on him by himself and others.

A support system and many second chances saved Dyer, who said he “wasn’t available” to help himself. “I want you to borrow my hope until you get your own,” his mother told him, which resonates with the tenets of “truth, trust, and transformation” that guide Dyer’s work today. At a time when opioid addiction is at crisis levels in the United States, the Obama administration, led by Director of National Drug Control Michael Botticelli, a former addict himself, is acting to prioritize access to rehabilitation through a $1.1 billion funding proposal and support for MAT (Medication Assisted Treatment). The most important thing, Dyer noted, is making “responsible recovery” possible.

To hear the full interview with Rick Dyer, click on the audio link above.