Ryan Mills is Off Probation and Helping Others Beat Drug Addiction

After browsing through all of the content we dropped in 2018, I noticed The Resurrection of Ryan Mills - a video about a former BMX pro’s triumphant battle with heroin addiction - was one of our top pieces of the year. Since the video’s release, quite a lot has happened in Ryan’s life. He’s off probation, he’s taking road trips, he’s helping others, and he just landed his dream job. We spent a day with Ryan and got up to speed on his journey.

How’s everything going?

I'm gooooooiiiiiiing through chaaangeeeeeees.


Are you still feeling good?

Besides breaking bones too easily and not stretching enough before I ride, I feel relatively good!


Does staying away from drugs ever get easier?

This question would be answered differently from each individual drug addict you asked it to. For me, the more time I put between me and the last day I used heroin, the easier it is. To elaborate a little bit, in the beginning of sobriety, I had the craziest urges to get high. My body was crawling inside of itself. If I sat around too long, the boredom became unbearable. Finding things to occupy your time is crucial for keeping your mind off of the disease. After I had about six-or-seven months sober, these feelings started getting less intense. Fast forward to now - it's nonexistent.

You mentioned a lot of people struggling with similar issues to yours reached out to you after your video piece dropped. Do you think you were able to help anyone?

I hope I was able to help inspire people out there. There is such a huge stigma attached to being a drug addict - making people ashamed and unable to speak out for the help they may need. I wanted to be able to show people that this issue can be talked about out loud. I've had close to zero backlash from anyone for publicly voicing my downfalls in life. It's actually been quite the opposite. 

People have been opening their arms to welcome me back into BMX and people have been more than willing to help me with opportunities in life in general.


How does it feel to have fellow BMX riders reaching out to you about such a sensitive topic?

I knew it was inevitable that I would come across many BMX riders with this problem or something similar. It makes me feel good to share my wisdom to everyone who messages me with questions and I answer everyone needing help. I've actually have made quite a few friendships with a few bike riders I would have never known before. I don't want to put anyone on blast, but you know who you are! And it's all love for y'all!

 

You had talked about wanted to get a job that involved helping people get through what you’ve been through. I didn’t expect that to happen so quickly What is your new job?

Dude! It's so crazy how life works! I honestly can follow a wild chain of events back to the Vital video we did talking about all of this to getting my new job. Not to say it fell in my lap exactly because I had to make some moves to get to this, but it basically fell in my lap - haha! I am now working for the State of Nevada's Department of Health and Human Services. I am kind of the first to have this job for Nevada, but I will be leading a team to battle the opioid crisis state-wide. I'll also be doing prisoner reentry stuff - helping inmates getting out of prison to find homes and jobs. To put it in more understandable words, I'm bridging the gap between the professionals in field trying to help addicts to the actual addicts themselves. A peer specialist, of sorts, to better connect with people going through what I've been through.


Is this exactly what you were hoping to find?

This couldn't be more exact of what I was hoping to do. I still have a hard time believing this is how I am making a living now.


How’s it going so far?

I'm about a month-and-a-half into the job. I have been working hard to get certifications so I can make the moves needed to take action. My bosses are amazing people and are super helpful. I've kind of been thrown into a world that I am a "street level" expert in, so everything is a learning experience. I've never worn business apparel, except that suit in the first Premium Products video and that was in 2005.

 

I see you’ve been traveling with your bike quite a bit lately. Where all have you been over the past few months?

Yeah - I have been trying to get out there a bit. Mainly because I'm off probation and am legally allowed to now, but I also wanted to reconnect with old friends and ride some new spots. And I really just missed the road trip life. I've stayed pretty much on the West Coast - California and Arizona with a quick trip to Texas, too.


Are the trips going to slow down now that you have a full-time job?

They won't be as impulsive. I'll have to plan a little more ahead now, but I have a few road trips planned in the near future. I want to go see the Salt Lake City boys and might be taking a trip to Colorado soon, too.


How about riding in general - do you still feel like you’ll have time to stay on it?

I mean, yeah. I just ride when I want to anyway. I have been collecting a couple little sponsors here-and-there, but it's nothing like it used to be where if I didn't ride, I didn't eat - haha. Shout out to Darkco BMX and DankTank for putting me on. Also, a huge thanks to Rich Hirsch for always flowing me Stranger and Primo stuff and keeping me rolling.

What do your bosses think about your relationship with BMX?

They don't know a whole lot about it, but they saw a documentary I did where I was riding. That's how I got the job. When they asked me if I was in a twelve-step program, I told them I ride for my sobriety. 

They were a little concerned about that, but they also couldn't possibly understand the community BMX serves and what a huge support system it is.


I know BMX played a huge role in your recovery. Do you think this could be passed on to other addicts?

Absolutely! I can't stress enough how crucial a hobby is for addicts, man! We are addicts, so we dive into hobbies and tend to get good at them fast. If you can focus on something positive as a hobby - especially ones that are creative - it is such a huge outlet for that part of our brain that desires drugs.

As of today, how long have you been clean? 

Christmas Day is two years and seven months, which means we are five months from the next Sober Jam! That will go down towards the end of May, so mark those calendars! I'm trying to make it bigger every year. It's more about just bringing a bunch of people together for a fun day and less about me being sober.


What’s the next move?

Forward.

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