SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — In 2017, the CDC says more than 66,000 people died from opioids in the United States.
President Trump proposed a spending plan which allocates a big chunk of money to fighting the opioid crisis. Now, a former addict in Central Illinois is trying to get through to others who are struggling.
She says, thanks to a small army, she became a fighter. Now, her recovery has become her greatest weapon for helping others overcome addiction.
This is Rachel King’s story of recovery, hope and busting the addiction stigma. It’s why you won’t see any videos of opioids throughout the story. It’s a trigger for addicts and a picture former addicts never want to look back on.
There’s a lot of color in this home; pictures plastered on the walls depicting dozens of memories, all telling a story of a happy family.
“People look at me and they think, how could she have ever been addicted to heroin? That’s what I was good at. I was good at getting high.”
After battling heroin addiction, Rachel King tried for a clean break. She moved in with her mom, Jeanine Hinshaw, in Bement. Her mom had no idea the baggage Rachel really had.
“That’s part of the disease. There’s a secrecy and there’s my ability to understand or my willingness to look deeper into it.”
“She was really supportive of me. I was going to some meetings and groups almost every day.”
For awhile, it seemed she was on the right track until a slip-up spiraled out of control. Her mom found her.
“Horror is all you can say as a mother; as a family member.”
“Hers was probably one of the scarier ones.”
Wendy Price was there, in paramedic training, helping administer Narcan.
“Just knowing that we needed to work as hard as we could to help get this young lady back to life.”
“I remember looking down and thinking, ‘Oh wow, there’s still a needle in my arm.'”
She says it was Narcan which saved her life.
“I knew this was the last straw, that I couldn’t do it on my own and that I needed to reach out and ask for help.”
After five days in the hospital, Rachel went to Springfield for rehab. She was clean and started a family but, with the birth of her daughter came postpartum depression; with that, a relapse.
“My partner, who would come in and say, ‘You’re going to lose everything. You’re going to lose me, you’re going to lose your daughter and you’re going to lose your life and I can’t do this on my own.'”
Those words stopped the needles. Rachel finally found the perfect cocktail: sobriety. She’s been clean more than a year.
“Whenever I would pray for her, whenever she was in addiction, I would have this kind of visual of, I know she’s in there. I know Rachel is in there.”
“So, I have the choice of recovery today. I don’t have a physical dependency or need to get high anymore.”
“There’s hope. There was a lot of darkness, but there’s some hope here and I’m not afraid to tell the story.”
Now she and her family are ready to write a new one. Rachel is now in long-term recovery and has become an advocate against opioid addiction.
She uses both her profession and social media groups as platforms. She encourages addicts by telling them there is no one right way to recover and, most importantly, recovery is possible.
When asked about emergency admission for opioid abuse the past couple years, OSF, in Urbana and Danville, stated 136 people were admitted in 2016; 198 in 2017. Between HSHS’s facilities in Springfield and Decatur, 271 were admitted in 2016; 310 in 2017.