NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) — U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson made a stop in Music City Thursday to discuss the opioid crisis and the importance of treatment facilities for those who need it most.
Carson toured the Next Door Recovery Center in Nashville and participated in a round table with health care providers.
“This establishment has recognized that it’s not just a matter of a detoxification program, but it’s a matter of filling in that void that created the desire, the need for the opioids in the first place,” Carson said.
Carson also heard the story of Melissa Newman-Brewer, who completed both inpatient and outpatient treatment at Next Door.
She said she’s struggled with addiction for most of her life.
“It started off like a binging thing, like a weekend thing, but then I started craving it more and wanted it more, and it just took over my life,” Newman-Brewer said.
After years of bouncing back and forth between recovery and drug use, she celebrated nine clean years. But two spinal surgeries and a legal opioid prescription later, and this mother once again found herself in the grips of addiction.
“Never thought in a million years that would be me, because again, pain pills, opioids are not my thing, but it sneaks up on you,” Newman-Brewer said.
She said she lost everything, including custody of her then 8-year-old son Brycen. That’s when she said she made the decision that saved her life.
“If I wouldn’t have made that phone call sitting in that living room, and I can remember it like it was yesterday, to go to the Next Door, I wouldn’t be here today,” she said.
Newman-Brewer said recovery was anything but easy.
“You have to face what you’ve done,” Newman-Brewer said. “You have to face that. You have to sit there and grieve what you’ve done to your kids, what you’ve done to your home, what you’ve done to other people, and you don’t want to face that, and that’s why people keep using.”
Thursday, as she shared her story with Secretary Ben Carson during his tour of the center, Newman-Brewer said she hasn’t used drugs in 18 months. She also has custody of her son again, a full time job, and an apartment in a HUD-funded building.
Casey Conway works at Addiction Campuses and has gone to treatment for alcohol abuse twice.
“You finally have to just say, you know what, I can’t do this on my own. I need help, I need an expert, I need something, because what I’m doing is not working,” Conway said.
He encourages people to get help, regardless of the stigma against drug and alcohol addiction.
“Know that there is a solution, there is a way that you can get better,” Conway said.
“There’s plenty of help out there,” Newman-Brewer said. “You just have to ask for it.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, opioids were involved in more than 42,000 deaths in 2016, which is more than 66% of all drug overdose deaths that year.
Find a full list of available recovery support services and resources for treatment here.