Fighting the Stigma of Opioid Addiction with Stories of Recovery (4:37)
People working on the front lines at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation offer their insight on the opioid crisis, addiction and recovery.
Woman: Opiates. My drug of choice was opiates.
Man: Barbiturates, Quaaludes, downers and then heroin finally.
Man: I actually lost my mother to an opioid overdose. This was two years ago. She was 59 years old, the most important person in my life.
Man: I don't have a personal story, per se. And I think the humanistic spirit of addiction is what really drew me to it.
Woman: I began self-medicating with prescriptions that were left over in my own medicine cabinet. When those were gone, I began to do, and divert, medications from my place of employment as a nurse.
Woman: I was coming off an amphetamine binge and what would happen is that I would become very tired. So I lied down on the couch with my little boy. While I was asleep, I started coughing, and when I coughed, it woke me up a bit. The house was filled with smoke and the house was on fire. And in my mind I said, “Thank God it's finally over”. Then, my son coughed and I heard in my mind or in my—wherever it came from—the voice said, “You can do what you want with your life. You have no right to take his.”
Man: The first time I used chemicals, it felt like the universe slipped into place.
Man: At its best, addiction was a comfort, it was a friend actually. Addiction, at its worst, was a monkey on my back.
Man: Such a bad feeling, physically and psychologically. And the only way really to effectively stop it at the time was to use again and again.
Man: It's totally illogical. I did not want to get high. I didn't want to use. I didn't want to drink. It was ruining my life.
Man: My parents, when they'd see me high, or that I had used, they'd think I was okay. They’d get worried about me when they’d see me in withdrawal, because that's when I’d look bad.
Man: We make a lot of mistakes about the opioid crisis, partly because of the stigma. Whenever it comes to addiction, especially to opioids, we talk about drugs and we don't talk about people.
Man: People are afraid to ask for help. Families don't want to talk about it.
Man: Like standing here now talking about it, I'm a bit uncomfortable, because I am not sure how people react to it.
Man: I was in my undergraduate program in college, and I needed to go to treatment, and I told someone about it who was in a position of power. They looked it as a—I think—a character issue. I would love for my kids to know that if they're struggling with mental health or addiction, it's not that there's something wrong with their character, it's that they may have this illness.
Man: It's been around forever. And there have been communities devastated by addiction, even opioid or heroin addiction, long before it became national news. When white kids in the suburbs started to die off, is when the country started to pay attention. And there's a shame in that.
Man: Part of my mission in life, and my mission at work, is to expose the public to the other side of the story: the recovery side of the story.
Man: I owe people out there who don't know about recovery, and don't know that recovery is possible, I owe it to them to let them know that it is.
Man: If I could talk to my mother today, and I guess I do in my quiet moments, I'd really want her to know that my recovery is because of her.
Man: I have two beautiful children: I have a four and a two-year-old. I have a wife. I have a job that I love, and I'm happy.
Man: I’m married now. I have two kids. I'm in Center City, Minnesota, and I have to stop and remind myself of that sometimes. I'm from Cairo, and if you would have told me, you know, 15 years ago, “You’ll be standing in a basement of Richmond Walker in Center City, Minnesota, talking to people from PBS,” you know, I’d be like, “Okay.” (Laughter)
Man: My name is Jeremiah Gardner.
Woman: My name is Cecilia Jayme.
Man: My name is Ahmed Eid.
Woman: My name is Carrie Kappel.
Man: My name is Dan Frigo.
Man: My name is Jordan Hansen.
Man: My name is Dr. Joseph Lee, and this is my “brief but spectacular” take.
Woman: “Brief but spectacular” take.
Man:: This is my “brief but spectacular” take on addiction and recovery.