Nick Gore marked his two-year anniversary free from heroin this month with a turn in front of the cameras.
The Bartlett man taped an interview set to air Sunday on "Oprah Prime." a new series on Oprah Winfrey's OWN network.
The 29-year-old didn't chat with the television mogul herself, but detailed his personal story to producers for a segment shedding light on heroin users and dispelling misperceptions about drug abuse. The show is scheduled to air at 8 p.m. Sunday.
"It's opened up doors I've never even knew was possible," Gore said.
Gore hasn't shied from the spotlight when it comes to discussing his addiction. He is one of the faces of an education campaign DuPage County officials launched last year in the wake of a record-number of heroin-related deaths, and he regularly speaks to teenagers in suburban schools about heroin.
He doesn't mince the difficult details of his past.
"I'm not proud of who I've become, but I'm grateful for what I've become," Gore said. "I still have to prove myself."
Gore continues to work on rebuilding his relationship with his mom, who joined him in Chicago's Harpo Studios last Thursday for the filming. Inside the green room, the proud mom wore a smile "worth the price of admission," Gore said.
Gore got hooked on painkillers when he developed kidney stones while living in Cleveland. The addiction led to heroin, which was far cheaper and more readily available.
"It's kids who are captains of football teams, valedictorians, actors," Gore, a former hockey standout, said of young people who become addicted to heroin. "It just doesn't discriminate. It cuts across all boundaries."
To feed his habit, he lied and stole from family members.
"Once I put heroin in my body, I lost the power of choice," he added.
Through rehab and the "grace of God," he got clean. During a 12-step program, he decided he was done with the lies.
"I had to look my mom in the eye, and I couldn't tell her one more lie," Gore said. "I had to just suck it up and be a man."
Besides garnering the attention of producers from the Oprah Winfrey Network, Gore also recently was honored with Hanover Township's Community Youth Leader award for his charisma and passion for talking to high school students.
"He tells you it keeps him alive," said John Parquette, the township's director of youth and family services.
Gore also keeps busy with Sack Lunch Sunday, a group he founded that delivers meals to the homeless in Chicago.
"Each day I fight to get back to those roots," that family instilled, Gore said. "The gifts of life just keep getting richer."