Thu. Nov 15th, 2018

Nathan Buis: From Shame to Mercy

“What the world needs more of in general is to help those that don’t have anything. To help those that don’t have the will to live or to get better. Everyone deserves a light at the end of their tunnel.” – Nathan Buis

Nathan Buis. Maybe you’ve heard the name, maybe you haven’t. Maybe you’ve seen his videos, maybe you haven’t. But for those of you who have not, it’s time for you to meet him. Nathan is a shatterproof voice that offers hope and resiliency in a society that struggles to understand addiction. He is a man who has proven any obstacle we face can be overcome. He is proof that the will to live and holding steadfast to faith in God’s undeniable love is nothing short of beauty and strength.

We are all human and we all make mistakes, sometimes repeatedly, until life teaches us what we need to learn. Yet, sometimes we lose those whose demons overtook them. We lose people we love to circumstances we wouldn’t wish on another living being. In the face of today’s world, there are far too many suffering in silences that many of us know nothing about. Too many people who are suffering are being shoved into corners so that life can just continue on for the ones that choose to look the other way.

Nathan Buis shares his own story to inspire those in need. He is intentionally seeking the ones stuck in those corners, trapped in the misery of addiction, to step out into the light and to see themselves for their faults and their mistakes and to love themselves enough to continue on.  Nathan knows and wants to prove that life is worth fighting for no matter who is suffering, no matter the circumstance.

Looking Back

By the age of 19, Nathan had his first DUI.  Alcohol was just the beginning of his struggle. Later on, opiate pills became his next priority.  He was introduced by his physician in 2009-2010.  Almost immediately, Nathan believed that pills were his answer to overcoming alcohol.  He realized he no longer needed to drink. He became functional without needing or wanting alcohol.  It took a long time before Nathan would realize he suffered with addiction.  Over the course of a 15-year span, he spent his time in and out of jail and rehab.

Not only had he become addicted to opiates, but he found that by selling them, he was able to maintain his habit while managing to pay his bills. However, it wasn’t long before prescriptions became harder to come by.  The price of pills increased. In 2011-2012, Nathan began using heroin.  It was cheaper and the money was better on profit. It wasn’t long before he landed in a suboxone clinic.  All the while, he remained clueless to the hold addiction had over him. He attempted to take his own life on several occasions.  He was addicted to opiates without knowing it. He began robbing and stealing when he failed his drug tests by showing positive for heroin. Nathan was trapped in a cycle. It was unrelenting, repetitive, dismal, and lonely. He was a full-blown addict.

Eventually, while Nathan was in one of many stays at a rehab, he was successful.  He began learning about addiction and drugs.  He understood that by learning all that he could, he could change.

Nathan doesn’t claim to be perfect.  He knows he does not hold all the right answers or have the only way for everyone to find recovery.  He has suffered a relapse.  But he hasn’t looked back since then.  Nathan is an addict living in long-term recovery.  He owns his story and he shares it as a testament to the life he now has.

Looking Forward

Nathan’s life today is about giving back and helping as many as he can.  Working in the addiction and recovery community, he is aware of the misconceptions about treatment centers.  He knows that 85-90% of those on Medicaid or without insurance are faced with no options for recovery.  He devotes his time to those that do not have options.  His work and his life is consumed with taking the suffering addict away from active addiction and into active recovery.  Nathan is a vital stepping stone for those that feel they have no way out of their own cycling with addiction.

As most addicts know, burning bridges is common.  As most addicts know, it is too easy to be cast aside by society, carrying the shame of being stigmatized, stuck in the belief that there is no hope, no help, and that life will not get better.  Nathan remembers living homeless and asking himself why no cared enough to help him.  He remembers each thought and emotion in each failed attempt at suicide. He remembers when he too was that lost cause.

Nathan also knows that change is possible.  He knows that change begins when just one person shows they care.  Today he reflects on his life and appreciates his second chance and God’s grace.  He knows that sometimes one 5-10 minute conversation of giving hope can be enough for a suffering addict to see that they are worth more than their addiction.

Nathan is actively involved on the national level, as well as the state and local levels in Kentucky for promoting change.  He pushes for resources to become available for everyone about addiction and recovery.  He wants to see a world that has more than enough options for treatment.  Of all of the countless hours he puts in while on his job, and outside of work, the most fulfilling aspect for him is finding help for the addict that has lived without hope.

Nathan is employed at Transformations Treatment Center and is fulfilling his life purpose to give back to those that need it.  You can follow Nathan at

Operation Clean Recovery is proud to have Nathan’s support and efforts paired with our own!