Recovering addict talks opioid awareness

Recovering addict talks opioid awareness

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Forty Americans die each day from overdosing on prescription painkillers – that staggering number is from the Centers for Disease Control.

It's prompted President Obama to propose $1.1 billion in new funding in this area, and to name this week National Heroin and Opioid Epidemic Awareness Week.

Each year, there are nearly 19,000 prescription pill-related deaths and more than 10,000 lethal heroin overdoses.

Government officials call it an epidemic that affects people from all walks of life.

One heroin addict, who was released from a Columbus treatment center on Wednesday, spoke with us.

"My husband went to prison, I went to jail I mean everything just fell apart," said Alyssa Forehand.

A recovering heroin addict, wife and mother of three just completed her six-month treatment at Columbus' New Horizons.

"We have seen a rise of use of heroin in Muscogee County and we have seen an increase in the amount of people addicted to opioids," said Susan Gallagher, New Horizons Director of Development.

Gallagher says her organization is already benefiting from resources that are now available through the new federal funding under the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act.

The list includes expanding substance use disorder treatment, improving access to medication-assisted treatment and expanding resources in rural areas.

For Forehand, her addiction started after she had surgery on her knee. Her abuse of pain pills quickly turned into a full blown addiction to heroin.

"My addiction totally consumed me, it took away my morals my values my ability to judge a situation clearly," Forehand said. "The life I was living it wasn't real, it was like a fantasy land of nightmares."

She ended up losing custody of her children, serving 19 months in prison and overdosing three times.

It's happening everywhere. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch spoke Wednesday at two colleges in Kentucky as part of 250 awareness events planned for Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week.

Forehand says she's an epidemic survivor and believes first hand that this new initiative will help save lives across America.

"Do I think jail is the answer no, prison not so much but treatment needs to be more available in our area and across the country," Forehand said.

The focus of the awareness week is prevention, enforcement, and treatment.

One way Gallagher sees that this new act will prevent deaths is by giving medical responders access to Narcan, an overdose-reversing shot

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