For one man, losing it all was the spark that ignited his passion for helping others get back on their feet.
Meet Memphis native Corey Dunavant, 46, who in 2005 thought he “had it all”: marriage, house, car, six-pack, and business. However, after closing down his restaurant chains due to the 2009 recession, Corey suddenly noticed that he relied on prescription painkillers to cope with reality.
What began in 2012 as a one-time stay snowballed into eight years in and out of treatment centers and sober living, resulting in homelessness, four overdoses, and waking up in the back of ambulances and jails. The day Corey found himself being beaten nearly to death in an abandoned house was the day he decided to surrender and seek help, phoning 911.
“I’ll never forget when I heard those sirens. I broke down and started crying.”
Corey was taken to a hospital in Nashville, where he stayed for two weeks while his body recuperated. He was then admitted to JACOA Treatment Center in Jackson and eventually moved to Serenity Recovery in Memphis, where he met Scott Jacobson.
Scott works for SOR, State Opioid Response, a state-run, government-funded organization that helps anyone struggling with addiction who lacks the resources to seek treatment. Through SOR, Corey landed managerial work at a nearby Italian deli called Lucchesi’s, which was a critical moment as Corey had not held a job in more than five years.
“I had a bed to sleep in, food to eat… I started to have a little bit of hope like maybe I can.” From there, miracles began trickling in. Over the next 15 months, friends and men who Corey’s always admired began re-entering his life.
From this rekindled network of mentors, Corey discovered YogaFit, which offers a recovery and addiction yoga program. “Especially with men, we tend to think as long as we can get our bodies right, we’ll be good…but there are plenty of dudes walking around in great shape who are absolutely miserable inside.”
Corey has realized through 12-step meetings the true power that lies in men emotionally supporting other men. As a result, in December 2021, at 252 pounds, he took the plunge to invest in his wellness.
After working with a doctor to safely come off his medications, Corey began by simply stretching in the mornings and doing sit-ups. He then started frequenting HOTWORX − an infrared fitness studio containing individual exercise pods, each room equipped with screens displaying pre-recorded instructions.
Corey is still blown away by it all and places importance on surrounding yourself with inspirational people from whom you can gain knowledge, wisdom, and strength. Through recovery, Corey has found his lane. He is currently enrolled in NASM’s online nutrition certification course, after which he will complete their personal trainer certification.
The intermittent faster begins his days at 4:30 a.m. with meditation, yoga, and weight-lifting, opting for bulletproof coffee and Xendurance’s collagen and greens supplement after. His keto diet incorporates a variety of vegetables and grass-fed organic lean meats.
Corey sustains a great relationship with his family and says it is one of his biggest blessings today. “If you can survive anything, you get the privilege of spending the rest of your life helping people.”
If you or someone you know suffers from addiction, call SAMHSA at 1.800.662.HELP or visit SAMHSA.gov.
By Shlomit Ovadia
Photo by Tindall Stephens