By Louisa Moller, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – Danny Dwyer remembers his total breakdown.

“There was a breakdown somewhere along the way whenever it was. Whether it was moral, whether it was physical, something happened to start a progression towards that,” Dwyer recalls.

For four years, the former Boston Police officer sat tucked under a bridge in Boston’s North End. He used the metal beams to protect him from the cold and incoming tide as he did drugs, at times overdosing, out of sight from the busy city.

“I remember being angry when I was brought back. I felt like I couldn’t even die correctly,” Dwyer said.

Danny Dwyer (WBZ-TV)

Since then, Dwyer has battled all the way back from addiction and he is hoping his story can inspire others to do the same. That is why he is running the 2017 Boston Marathon to raise money for the Lazarus House, a homeless shelter and food pantry in Lawrence.

THE FOUNDATIONS OF ADDICTION

Like any foundation, Danny says his was laid when he was just a kid. He was first introduced to marijuana at eight years old and, he says, he soon turned to other drugs.

“I started to build a tolerance. You know, sleeping pills and smoking marijuana,” Dwyer said.

But Danny was able to suppress his addictive tendencies and begin a life in law enforcement. He joined the Air National Guard, then the Air Force, then Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department, and finally, he became a Boston Police Officer.

As a rookie cop, he suffered a knee injury during a foot chase that would launch his downward spiral back into addiction. He was reintroduced to painkillers.

“And now here I’m stuck, as a police officer. I’m afraid to tell anybody about it because I am so embarrassed and ashamed that I failed, that’s how I felt, you know?” Dwyer said.

Dwyer says he lost everything and eventually became homeless. He turned to the underside of the bridge connecting the North End to Charlestown for shelter.

THE TURNAROUND

At one point under that bridge, Danny says he had a realization that he could not continue a life of addiction.

“I just had this moment of clarity that, like I told you under there, I’m going to die and I don’t want to die like this,” Dwyer said.

Danny admitted himself to long-term treatment. He used running during his road to recovery.

Now, he hopes his story can inspire others who may find themselves battling addiction or homelessness. He says running for Lazarus House was a natural fit.

“I felt that me running, maybe I can be a symbol for hope for people, and I can reach my hand back, that responsibility that I feel like I have so that somebody can say, you know, it’s not all perfect,” Dwyer said. “You need to allow people around you to help you and show you a way out. You need to start building that foundation.”

For more information on how you can help Danny in his run for Lazarus House, CLICK HERE.