WHEAT RIDGE, Colo. — On a Friday morning in a busy gym in Wheat Ridge is a personal trainer with a passion that saved his life. Greg Maloney started his own business at the start of the pandemic, called American Gainz.
"I get up in the morning, and I'm like, I love my job. And after each client, I say that I love my job," Maloney said. “It gives me a high in itself. It's a natural high.”
Maloney struggled with substance use for several years of his life. He had been clean for almost four years before relapsing in November 2021.
“Heroin’s not around anymore. It's just fentanyl," said Maloney. “Getting off fentanyl was substantially harder than getting off heroin for me.”
Maloney stopped using opioids in January of this year. He did not see any clients or work out while he was using. For Maloney, his family and friends were critical to getting clean this year. He thought of his mother and a promise he made to her before she passed.
“That I would stay sober. She knew that," Maloney remembered.
One of Maloney's clients is Kris Montoya, who is a tattoo artist. He opened his own tattoo studio, called New Addiction, when he decided to get clean.
“I was a heroin and meth user for close to 30 years," said Montoya. “I've overdosed quite a few times, clinically dead a couple times.”
Maloney is a regular at Montoya's tattoo studio. The two knew of each other for years while they were consumed by substance use disorders and leading different lives.
“There's people that I can rely on, there are people that I can trust. There are people that I can tell anything to, that I can be transparent with," Maloney said.
Montoya said he was in a state prison for 13 years of a 15-year sentence.
“Felon, previous offender with a weapon, yeah. I mean, I had multiple drug cases in the state. That's what I was doing time for in the state, but the feds picked up the weapons charge," Montoya explained.
Montoya said he was looking at a life sentence on the federal level, but a grand jury dropped the charges. He knew if he were to get arrested again, he would spend the rest of his life in prison.
"After that, I was still in a state prison. And I was told that I was going home after my sentence," Montoya recalled. “I was never afraid of prison. Or, you know, anything I was doing. But I knew I had absolutely no more chances.”
Montoya said he was still using drugs while in prison, and made up his mind to change his life when he was released. He opened New Addiction, and found a new kind of high.
The two know they have hurt and lost people in their lives, but are trying to lead new lives now.
“My passion today is being of service. However that looks. Giving somebody a smile, giving somebody a hug, holding the door for somebody — that's what I live for today," Maloney said. "And I love it.”