Drug addiction is often a disease that pushes people into their graves. For one anti-drug activist, it caused him to willingly get inside one.
John Edwards, an Irishman who has been clean for 27 years, is raising awareness of the danger of drugs by burying himself alive in front of a Florida church. It's his third such stunt.
"I’m determined to bring a message of hope," Edwards said during an interview with the Miami Herald via Facebook Live. "I pray to God to give me the strength and the perseverance to offer words of wisdom and affirmation from the grave."
Edwards' previous two experiences burying himself in the U.K. have given him the confidence to do it once more. He entered the coffin outside the River at Tampa Bay church on Nov. 19 and plans to come out Nov. 21.
While a 3- by 3- by 8-foot coffin seems confining, Edwards has learned to put mind over matter.
"In my mind, I’ve got to focus myself," he said, WTVT reports. "I have to tell myself I will not get claustrophobic."
“Preparing mentally is a big part of doing this,” he said. “I’m determined not to be claustrophobic. It’s quite uncomfortable to be sitting in the same position for so long so I have to be really focused.”
Edwards himself has battled two bouts of cancer and liver disease, the Miami Herald reports. He said he prepared for the experience by fasting, praying and getting checked by his doctor.
Although Edwards is pushing his physical endurance, his coffin isn't the average one you would find in a funeral home. With tubes for bodily processes and a connection to livestream from underground, the coffin's additions make his three-day feat possible.
"Obviously, I get a lot of questions about how I use the toilet," Edwards said. "Well, we have two tubes. One for stuff that goes in, such as clean water, and one for stuff that goes out -- the food that’s processed, I’ll put it like that."
Though Edwards' stunt addresses addiction in general, it is significantly geared towards opioid addiction. According to WTVT, opioid overdose kills 91 U.S. citizens each day.
Jayson Williams, the pastor at the church where Edwards is holding his stunt, supports his message.
"We're saying, look, if you have problems with drugs or alcohol or depression, we're here as a beacon of hope to come and to give people a better future," he said.
Watch Edwards inside his grave at www.walkingfree.org/live. He answers questions live on the air and uses the hashtag #Gravechat.