A news report on the opioid crisis has reunited the parents of two different addicts with their previously missing children.
Billy Donovan, 31, was living on the streets of Boston in the grip of an addiction to heroin. “I know I’m going to die from it,” Donovan told CNN’s Gary Tuchman. Donovan says he started with prescription drugs as a teen and eventually got hooked on heroin, a cheaper alternative to opioids like oxycontin.
Friends of Donovan found him after seeing the report and told his mother, Kristina Barboza, where he was. “If my son were to die, I just don’t know how I would go on,” she said in a follow-up story.
Donovan, who’d gone to rehab several times and relapsed, agreed to try again and checked himself into a detox facility.
Meanwhile, 30-year-old Meghan DiGiacomo, also homeless in Boston, was reunited with her parents, who saw the report. Her father, Paul DiGiacomo, has sworn to live beside her on the street until she agrees to enter a drug treatment program.
“I’m never giving up on Meghan,” says her mother, Julie Chandler. “She won’t die. She can’t.”
The story of these two families ravaged by drug addiction is one only too common in America today. The so-called opioid epidemic, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, claims the lives of 90 Americans a day, by some estimates.
DiGiacomo dreamed of getting sober and starting a family one day with her boyfriend, who was also a heroin addict. They both overdosed, but only she survived.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15,000 Americans died in 2015 as a result of opioid overdoses. And the costs are not just in human lives.
The CDC says opioid addiction takes a $78.5 billion toll on the U.S. economy each year because of the cost of “healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement.”
The problem is getting more severe, with synthetic opioids like fentanyl, which is 100 times more potent than heroin, hitting the market. Police in Arkansas recently warned the public that they could overdose just by touching the handle of a shopping cart if it had fentanyl residue on it.
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