ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, Md. -- The community and Anne Arundel County leaders are banning together to fight the opioid and heroin epidemic in Maryland. Tuesday, recovery and drug experts hosted a panel discussion called “The Other Talk.” Parents packed in to Arundel Christian Church to learn how to talk to their kids about pain pill abuse.
“Pain killers hooked me the first time I did them,” said Izelle Van Zuilen, a recovering addict who has been clean of opioids for two years.
“You cannot even get up to brush your teeth. The desperation kicks in and you will do anything to get that fix. You will lie to anybody, you will steal from anyone, you will hurt anybody in your life, just because you want to feel better,” Van Zuilen described the moments before hitting rock bottom.
Van Zuilen said she did everything right, everything she was supposed to do. She went college, and became teacher. However, she said she held on to a dark secret, she was popping pain pills all along.
“I did that for a few years, I was actually doing pretty well at work, and I was hiding it, but then your use becomes more, your desperation becomes more, and that is when you start getting caught,” the recovering opioid addict explained.
Recovery experts said Van Zuilen’s story and similar cases are becoming all too common in Anne Arundel County. In fact, Governor Larry Hogan declared opioid and heroin use, a state of emergency in Maryland, and is dedicating $50 million dollars to fighting the epidemic.
“We are getting government support, and we are finally having a national conversation about the things we have seen for a long time now,” said David Stup, Director of Operations for Delphi Behavioral Health Group and Founder of Maryland House Detox.
Statistics show on average, there is one overdose a day in Anne Arundel County, one death each week, and it’s getting worse; Heroin use has more than doubled in the last decade.
County officials said that is why Tuesday’s even was so important. They recommend parents start talking to their kids about opioids and drug use as young as five and six years old.
For more information on how to have “The Other Talk”: http://preventsubstanceabuse.org