September-October 2015 | SUSAN'S SILENT SEDUCER

SPECIAL DELIVERY: For the locations of Drug Take-Back Boxes, call the Somerset County Health Department or visit
YOU'RE NOT ALONE: Medication-Assisted Treatment is available through the Somerset County Health Department for Maryland residents struggling with opioid addiction.SUSAN'S SILENT SEDUCERA HEALTHY REMINDER: September is National Recovery Month.



This story has a happy ending, but the beginning is far from that. Imagine: A middle-age business professional suffers a back injury. Her doctor prescribes a well-known pain medication. Her injury heals — but treatment leaves her addicted.

“I came from corporate America,” said Susan. “I didn’t look like a drug addict. But, I knew the pills were taking control to the point where I couldn’t possibly manage it on my own.” 

She entered in-patient rehab, but rather than improving, the story worsens. While there, Susan befriended a man. Against the advice of her counselors, they began a relationship. When they were discharged, she let him stay in her home. 

It was a bad formula. Her defenses were weakened, her need to care for this man too strong and her recovery too new. When he introduced heroin — easier than pills to get on the street and much less expensive — she broke, and her addiction shifted to shooting up.

“Addiction can start with what seems to be a reasonable and necessary prescription painkiller, but then the situation spirals out of control,” said Matey Barker, behavioral health director of the Somerset County Health Department. “The patient becomes addicted to the prescribed opioids. Then, when the medical need to take the pills is resolved and there’s no more access to the pills, the addiction drives them into taking whatever else they can afford and obtain — including street drugs like heroin.”

Barker continues: “That said, recovery is possible, and evidence-based research shows that treatment that includes medication and counseling works most often. But, they have to be ready to start the conversation and then commit.” 

Susan was ready. When the man she brought into her life was arrested, Susan came to her senses. At age 48 she moved back in with her mother. 

“I’d hit rock bottom. My body wanted drugs; my mind wanted drugs. If I didn’t get them, I felt like I was going to die. I had stolen from my parents and spent my $100,000 retirement savings on my addiction. I lost my house. I was laid off. I lost everything. I had to save myself, but I couldn’t do it on my own.”

Susan reached out to the Somerset County Health Department (SCHD). She was placed in their Medication- Assisted Treatment program, which includes Suboxone, which helped her detox from the heroin. One-on-one counseling and mentoring gave her strength; group meetings gave 
her support.

Today, Susan is heroin-free, having worked her way down from 12mg of suboxone to 2mg a day. Her goal is to completely be off of it one day soon. 

“I have grandchildren now, a good job. I feel I am actually doing some good in this world. If I could give advice to someone struggling with addiction it would be: ‘Recovery is possible.’”

Medication-Assisted Treatment is available through the Somerset County Health Department for Maryland residents struggling with opioid addiction. For more information, contact the SCHD at 443-523-1790.

September is National Recovery Month, which is dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding of substance misuse and abuse issues, and to celebrating the people who recover from addiction. With children and teens heading back to school and the stress of the holidays on the horizon, it’s an excellent reminder to remove temptation from your medicine cabinet. 

The Somerset County Health Department offers five steps that could make all the difference in your home:

1. Lock up medication that can be misused or abused in a cabinet, drawer or medicine safe.
2. Keep all medication out of reach of children and pets.
3. Store each medication in its original container.
4. Never share prescription drugs.
5. Dispose of expired/unneeded medications in a secure and anonymous Drug Take-Back Box.

For the locations of Somerset County Drug Take-Back Boxes, more tips on preventing opioid abuse and misuse, and help for those addicted and their families, visit, or call the Somerset County Health Department at 443-523-1790.

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