ESSEX — Former drug addict turned entrepreneur Daniel McGhee recently published his novel, titled “Chasing a Flawed Sun.”

McGhee called it “raw and intense,” and said the book was a story of hope. He wrote the book to give confidence to those still caught in the throes of substance use disorder.

“I wanted to give those who are clean more insight into why we do what we do, and most of all to help the loved ones of addicts and those who have passed from addiction an understanding of what goes on in the mind of an addict and why we are the way we are,” McGhee said.

“The opioid epidemic is sweeping this nation and killing more people each year than in the entire 20 years of the Vietnam War. It is affecting everyone from poverty stricken inner cities to upper class suburbia.”

Growing up in the Joppatowne/Edgewood area, McGhee began drinking at a very early age because he believed it transformed him into the person that he wanted to be.

“Alcohol took away my shyness, and my inhibitions. It made me outgoing, tough and carefree. So I drank overnight. I wanted to be a tough guy and a gangster, so in my teens I sold drugs and fought all the time,” he said.

Eventually, he was introduced to heroin by an older female that he was dating. As with many, heroin eventually broke McGhee down.

“Heroin took all my toughness and ego out of me and left me with nothing,” he said.

Unfortunately, the author said he went on to abuse alcohol for 10 years and heroin for six years with Dundalk and Essex being the primary locations for his substance abuse.

At 21 years old, McGhee had a heart attack. He said he “left for dead” on a church step in Bel Air.

“Two kids found my body on their way to work and called the cops to report a dead body,” he said.

“I was brought back to life and kept in the hospital for a week on breathing tubes. I had a heart attack and hypothermia. That Friday, I was released and not caring about my life, went right back to the city and shot heroin again. I went back into cardiac arrest. The people I was with, thinking I was dying, left me under a pay phone and called 911. I woke up in the back of an ambulance, refused to get treated and signed a consent form and hitchhiked home. I should have died.”

McGhee said the pay phone still stands, but the gas station where it was located has been torn down.

The author said he had a moment of realization soon after this episode. He knew he was out of control, and he wanted to stop using.

“Quitting was a long process with many mistakes along the way,” he said.

“It was a spiritual process, as well as a process of maturity and a change of perception. I had to lose my ego and surrender my will. I had to stop acting like a victim and start taking personal responsibility for everything that happened in my life. Once I could take responsibility then I could change it. It was a slow painful unfolding, that almost killed me.”

Sharing his life journey is important to him because McGhee feels he survived the worst part of drug use and has learned how to live and succeed without the use of drugs.

“I’ve built several businesses and a non-profit dedicated to giving back both here and abroad,” he said.

McGhee owns Freedom Fighters Bail Bonds in Essex, and works for Kairos Properties. He also works for Homeowners Real Estate in Bel Air and Hopes Horizon Treatment Center in Perry Hall. He is the founder and president of Agape Projects, a nonprofit that does charity work for those in need.

Throughout McGhee’s 10 years of owning Freedom Fighters Bail Bonds, he sees drug use as a major contribution to crime.

“There are a massive amount of young men and women from the Essex, Middle River and Dundalk communities who are caught up in this lifestyle,” he said.

“They are strung out on heroin, fentanyl and cocaine. Through my time doing bail bonds and working for the treatment center, I would say that the majority of young people come from Essex and Dundalk. A large portion of the overdoses that I see are coming from those blue collar areas.”

According to McGhee, Dundalk Avenue has turned into an open air drug market in recent years.

“It’s never been this bad in Dundalk. Anytime that I’m down there I’m offered drugs by people on the streets,” he noted.

McGhee believes individuals who have found recovery from substance use disorder should reach out and help others.

“I spend my time working with addicts in the community, speaking at the jails and institutions and helping people find treatment,” McGhee said.

“Chasing a Flawed Sun” is available on Amazon.com and at local Barnes & Noble stores.