Up to 36 million people in the world abuse opioids, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
They say the number of unintentional deaths because of this abuse is on the rise.
One woman, after over two decades of addiction, was able to turn her life around.
After becoming addicted to prescription drugs at a young age, she says she now wakes up every morning in awe that she’s still here today.
“I learned how to use a needle and from there, that’s all I cared about,m” says Shila Stiefel, former addict.
Shila Stiefel’s addiction to opioids began when she was 13 years old.
“It helped me feel numb. I didn’t know how to deal with the feelings that I was feeling, so numb worked,” says, says Stiefel.
From that point on, she was taking prescription pills, and using heroine several times a day.
“That was my full-time job. Looking for it, finding it, using it. Looking for it, finding it, using it,” she says.
Over 20 years of abuse led to 3 trips to prison…
3 of her four children, had to be raised by their father because Shila wasn’t able to be a drug free parent.
Then one day, almost 5 years ago, as she was taking care of her youngest daughter, she decided she couldn’t take it anymore.
“I remember laying on the floor that day next to her, and I couldn’t even get up, I was so sick. She deserved somebody to love her, and I loved drugs more than I loved her. I didn’t know how to love. I called Heartview. And when they told me they were full, and there was a waiting list, I thought it was over,” says Stiefel.
“When they finally get to the point where they’re like ‘I can’t do this anymore, I need help.’ Only to be met with ‘Yeah, thanks for calling, but you have a wait,” that’s just heartbreaking,” says Kurt Snyder, Heartview Foundation.
Snyder is the executive director of the Heartview Foundation. He says more access to help is needed to fight the fight against opioids. More medical entities and volunters are critical.
Stiefel is a success story, luckily for her, the wait wasn’t a long one.
“That phone call 5 minutes later saying ‘Can you come in right now,’ I will never forget that feeling I felt,” says Stiefel.
Now, Stiefel is almost 5 years sober.
She has regained relationships with all of her kids, and is working as an administrative assistant right here… at the place she says saved her.
“Walking through these doors was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done… but it changed my life forever,” she says.
Stiefel said this Mother’s Day was the first one she’s ever spent with all of her kids, as well as her parents who are also recently sober.
She said it was one of the best days of her life.
There are dozens of treatment and prevention centers across the state.
We spoke to some experts and found that the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration can be very helpful.
If you go to their website, https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/
All you have to do is type in your city, and decide what kind of treatment you or a loved one should seek.
There’s options for behavioral health treatment, opioid treatment and prevention, and much more.