People impacted by opioid epidemic speak out

Posted at 7:47 PM, Aug 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-09 10:46:14-04

President Donald Trump spoke out on the opioid epidemic on Tuesday.  He said a stronger law enforcement response is needed and more education to prevent addiction.

The president met with Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price and Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway on the opioid crisis.

“So we briefed the President on our strategy through Health and Human Services Department, a strategy that includes making certain that we have the resources and the information necessary for prevention and treatment and recovery; providing best practices for states and those that are engaged in that process; making certain that we have overdose reversing medication -- naloxone and Narcan -- as present as needed and possible anywhere across the country; making certain that we're doing the data -- identifying the data, the public health aspect of it -- of this:  Why is it that 52,000 Americans succumbed to an overdose death in 2015 and those numbers continue to increase?  Fourth is the research aspect of this.  What is the NIH doing?  What can they do?  And of exciting things to provide for, hopefully, pain medication that is not addictive or is not euphoric,” said Secretary Price.

People who have survived opioid addiction or tried to help people overcome addiction say the national attention is needed. They are hoping it leads to resources and helps erase the stigma that comes with addiction.

“I have never met someone who has not been touched by addiction,” said Elizabeth Bulat, M.D., the Medical Director at Henry Ford Maplegrove

Seven Action News spoke to one woman who is now a recovering opioid addict and received treatment at Maplegrove.  She wanted to speak anonymously.  She had worked as a nurse, then became a lawyer.  She was a mom.  Then she became pregnant and lost the baby in a traumatizing birth.

“The doctor prescribed pain killers as part of my recovery from the delivery of the baby, and I found subconsciously, it numbed my pain, my grief… and it just spiraled out of control.”

She eventually got help and has been clean for a year.  She is worried about others who struggle with opioid addiction, whether it is pills or heroin.  She says she was able to get help because she had the ability to pay for treatment, medicine, and doctors beyond what insurance covered. 

Doctors say all too often they make care decisions based on resources, not on what is medically ideal for the patient.

“I would like to be able to give my patient whatever they need in terms of medication and length of stay,” said Dr. Bulat.

She says sometimes patients’ insurance doesn’t cover much impatient care beyond than detox.

They say regardless of your resources, if you are struggling with addiction and need help, seek it with hope.  There are people out there who will fight for you.

“You may feel alone, but you are not alone. If you reach out for help, help will be given to you.”