David Cantrell

"You have to think of drugs as predator and prey."

David Cantrell is a warrior. His burly appearance and fire in his eyes say it all . They tell the story of someone who has seen the worst and survived.


From childhood, Cantrell suffered the perils of addiction. He fell victim to drugs early on, remaining at their mercy for decades. Cantrell’s background made him the ideal target for the predator of opioids. His parents were both alcoholics, often drunk in front of him. His father was an ex-Marine boxer with a temper, and violence was routine in the home. Cantrell was no stranger to his father’s wrath. If he deviated from his father’s expectations, his father’s fists made their point. Not only did Cantrell suffer from physical abuse at home, but he endured a fair share of verbal and mental abuse as well. 

When he was 13, Cantrell experimented with heroin for the first time. He said drugs seemed like the cure to the emotional and physical trauma he experienced as a young child. Drugs created a reality so good and realistic that his brain thought i t was true — a common experience for thousands of other addicts nationwide. But soon Cantrell lost all sense of who he was. As most addicts do eventually, he disengaged with his friends and family. His life became focused on seeking the next high. Thus began the series of Cantrell’s many visits to jails and prisons.


At 13, he was arrested for the first time in a drug-related incident and sentenced to five years in juvenile detention. But after his release, Cantrell returned to drugs and alcohol. In all, Cantrell has been arrested a total of nine times, all with varying verdicts.


At 34, Cantrell finally had enough. He began the road to recovery by admitting he was an addict, something he was unable to do before. Today, Cantrell is 40 years clean from using drugs and alcohol. He went on to become a counselor, retiring a few years ago, and now he speaks at Munson telling the story of his journey.

(Above) David Cantrell