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Becoming an agent of change: Celebrity agent still mixes with the rich andfamous, but sobriety comes first.

Darren Prince's odyssey paints a vivid picture of how outward success can mask inner turmoil. A millionaire by the age of 20, Prince rubbed elbows with the showiest of celebrities while he privately descended into an abyss of opioid addiction.

Prince, now48 and in recovery for more than a decade, fuels a passion for speaking and also has raised awareness about the risk of addiction through direct efforts with treatment entities such as Banyan Treatment Centers and Paterson, N.J.-based Turning Point. His 2018 book, Aiming High: How a Prominent Sports and Celebrity Agent Hit Bottom at the Top (Light Hustler Publishers), became a fast sensation after its initial availability as an e-book earlier this fall.

He wants his message of hope to reach a wide range of targets, "from Yale or jail, Park Avenue to park bench," as he says. His own life clearly has been situated at both extremes.

EARLY SUCCESSES

Prince believes that even his initial successes in business were driven by an early sense of not belonging, not being comfortable in his own skin. He wasn't much of a student but enjoyed crunching numbers, and in his teens he began trading baseball cards at card shows. He started his own card company and then moved into the selling of memorabilia and autographs.

At the same time, the allure of drugs would begin to take hold. He remembers going to the infirmary at sleepaway camp at age 12 after experiencing bad stomach pains, and being given a disgusting liquid remedy that would nonetheless leave him floating.

"Every inadequacy went away," he recalls. "I became confident, funny, muscular, good-looking."

That mysterious elixir turned out to be the narcotic Demerol, which Prince would receive on several consecutive nights at camp. He says this was the start of what would become a years-long pattern of chasing down a variety of drugs, though he says "it always came down to opiates" for him.

In his public life, Prince sold his card company and launched the Prince Marketing Group in the mid-1990s, where he would represent celebrities from Magic Johnson to Hulk Hogan to Evel Knievel. By then he had already been arrested multiple times as well. On one occasion he was ordered to attend 12-Step groups. "I went through the motions," he says. "I heard everything, but wasn't listening."

It would be years until the recovery messages would begin to resonate. For two years during his struggle, he was on and off buprenorphine treatment. An uncle was instrumental in getting Prince back into the fellowship, and support from some of his famous friends and associates also played a part. Prince says he reached out to Johnson about 18 months before he got sober; Johnson penned the foreword for Prince's new book.

The spiritual influence has helped Prince greatly, and he now sees himself as fully behaving in recovery. "You don't get sober not to enjoy life," he says.

RECOVERY FIRST

Prince still walks in circles where famous athletes, actors and executives converge. But he talks with greater joy about his comrades in recovery, some prominent and others less so, from whom he says he gets "such a vibration."

Prince's work as an agent remains important to him, and it has built an important network of support through the darkest times. But above all, he says he realizes, "If I put anything before my sobriety, I will lose everything."

Gary A. Enos is Editor of Addiction Professional.

Caption: DARREN PRINCE
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Title Annotation:RECOVERY
Author:Enos, Gary A.
Publication:Addiction Professional
Date:Sep 22, 2018
Words:579
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