HARTFORD -- The number of people seeking treatment for addiction in Connecticut has spiked in recent years, all while the state continues to expand access treatment. Statewide, the number of people being treated for an addiction to opioid substances jumped 25 percent in just the last four years, according to the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.
The department told Fox 61 Medication Assisted Treatment is seen as the “gold standard” in opioid addiction treatment, with a recent federal grant given to the state to expand such programs.
Jenny Murry, a Middletown woman currently in recovery from drug addiction, said a Medication Assisted Treatment and an unconditional love from her family was the answer for her.
Jenny recalled a time during her 14-year-long battle with drug addiction in which she felt at one of her lowest point.
“I was watching people live their lives and go by and I was missing out on it,” she said. “I remember looking out my bedroom window, watching the cars go by, craving so bad, craving and sick.”
Jenny said she toyed with a laundry list of drugs during her addiction.
“It takes over your whole mind and thought process until you ultimately feed that addiction in your brain until you feed that craving, that hole,” she said.
She eventually added opioids to the mix.
“My heroin addiction grew very quickly,” she said.
Jenny had an addiction so powerful she found herself in near death situations three separate times. Each time her life was saved by the overdose reversal drug, called Narcan.
“The third time, my nephew had a play that night. That was the turning point for me, you know? Now I’m missing out on big things,” she said.
Opioid addiction, like Jenny’s, is classified by health officials as a “chronic brain disease,” similar to heart disease or diabetes. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration emphasized addiction cannot be cured, only managed. They say the best choice of treatment for an opioid addiction in particular is Medication Assisted Treatment, in which counseling and medication therapy is combined.
Medications commonly used in for the treatment include buprenorphine, which is only prescribed by a specially certified physician, and methadone, which is dosed out daily at a specially licensed clinic.
For Jenny, being in a methadone program wasn’t easy at first, but she said it was the step she needed to get herself into recovery.
“I was able to reach out to a counselor there as needed which reaches out to me once a week and gives me their time,” Jenny said.
She also talked about how the medication is critical to reducing overwhelming cravings and withdrawals that come with coming off opioids.
“When you detox or when you stop using heroin you go through a very vicious sick withdrawal, kind of like the flu times a thousand,” Jenny said.
She went to a methadone clinic every day for more than six months, but has since reached a steady point in her recovery allowing her to be able to have take-home doses.
“Recovery is not easy, I will say I’m not anywhere close where I want to be, but I’m a lot farther than I was,” she said.
She urges others not to be afraid to take the treatment path that’s right for them.
“For anybody that’s out there you know that’s worried about the stigma they may get about being on Methadone and what a person may think you know… don’t let that stop you,” Jenny said.
She is now two years into her recovery and said her wish for her future is a simple one.
“To be a good daughter, aunt, godmother, sister. I hope," she said. "Happiness and a chance to have babies and have a beautiful home for myself. Most importantly: my recovery. I need to keep working on my recovery, because if I’m not well, the people around me aren’t well.”
Jenny now works with an organization called Aware Recovery reaching out to others in need of help with their addiction.
For other ways to find help with addiction click here.