Ada County has taken the first step in battling the area’s opioid crisis by starting a dialogue in the community.
The first-ever Opioid Crisis Series took place in Meridian Thursday, Jan. 25, bringing hundreds of people together to talk about the epidemic.
“Substance abuse is a big issue in every community,” said Robert Cole, Training Captain with Ada County Paramedics. “We’ve been fortunate that we haven’t seen the severity that other communities have, but we’re also fortunate that the community is coming together so that we don’t ever get to that level.”
Led by Judge Lynn Norton of the Ada County Problem Solving Court, the seminar served as an opportunity to discuss available resources, and share stories of addiction and hope.
“I lost my son to [Child Protective Services], I was homeless, my family was done with me,” said Hillary Threet, a recovering opiate addict. “I was on the streets because my boyfriend evicted me from our house, and I remember thinking to myself one day, ‘This is how I’m going to die.’”
Threet says life circumstances led her to abuse prescription painkillers prescribed to her after surgery. Eventually, she turned to something stronger.
“It just snowballed into extreme heroin use,” Threet said.
Threet says events like this one spreads awareness and shows the community that opioid abuse doesn’t discriminate. Experts say it can happen to anyone.
“Very few people go, ‘Hey, I want to get addicted to something.’ That’s not how it happens,” said Steve Moore, Senior Minister at Ten Mile Christian Church. “It happens a little bit at a time and next thing you know…so that’s what’s we’re hoping for — is to prevent it.”
Those at the meeting say if there’s one thing to take away, it’s that no matter what, there’s always hope.
“I haven’t been sober since I was 14,” Threet said. “I’m 27 now and I’m eight months clean…yeah, eight months clean…and I feel great. Life is really good.”