'There's life after addiction' - WDEL forum addresses opioid addiction

There can be life after addiction, for those who are fortunate. For many, it's a lifelong struggle, and some don't make it.

Following a year in which more than 300 people lost their lives to addiction in Delaware, treatment providers, recovering addicts and Senator Chris Coons took part in a WDEL forum during Delaware's Morning News Friday.

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"There's not even a word big enough to describe my struggle, the shame and guilt and things like that" Jamie Hall of Newark said as she described the time she got hooked on heroin. 

Holly Rybinski of Wilmington went into detox, as well as prison, as she fought a similar problem.

"I went to detox a couple of times, but I knew that I could leave and get what made me feel better," Rybinski said.

Hall and Rybinski now try to assist others who are going through recovery.

During the hour-long program, treatment specialists said Delaware lacks adequate services especially for women and children. Hall said she waited five months for one of just a handful of beds available for women at a treatment facility in the state.

According to Domenica Personti of Recovery Services of America, children who develop addictions face particular hardships - as do their parents.

"Parents are sending their children out of state - primarily to Florida to get treatment," Personti said. "The State of Delaware is doing nothing about inpatient, detox and residential treatment."

"If we can teach our children how to deal with the stress of life, they stand a chance of avoiding addiction later on," Brandywine Counseling President and CEO Lynn Fahey said. 

According to David Humes with atTAcK Addiction - whose son died of an overdose six years ago this weekend - the prison system has become "the biggest treatment system we have in Delaware."

"We have to get away from that model," Humes said.

Senator Chris Coons agreed, saying "we don't need a 'war on drugs response' to the opioid crisis that simply puts people in jail."  

"We as a country need to provide the resources and the support for folks who are struggling with the disease of addiction, to make the choice to seek recovery. I think we're getting there," Coons added.

Participants in the discussion expressed optimism that with more treatment facilities available than just a few years ago, more lives can be saved and turned around.

There's life after addiction," Personti said. "We need people to know that."

Reporter - Anchor

Mark Fowser is a veteran journalist in Delaware.