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Overcoming addiction: how one Tucson program is helping women

Posted at 11:03 PM, Nov 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-10 01:06:59-05
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -- Kira Heidrick is moving forward.
"Recovery is forever. It's not like you can take a pill and addiction is gone," Heidrick said. "You have to maintain it."
For the 33-year-old mother, alcohol came first. Heidrick says it was her drug of choice. After cracking her collar bone in a car crash, someone gave her a couple of pills to deal with the pain. She was introduced to a new world of oxycodone, percocet and vicodin. 
Heidrick never had a prescription but says once you know who illegally sells painkillers it's easy to get in the game.
"You know I've heard it makes some people want to sit down and veg out, but no. I cleaned my house. It made me feel good," Heidrick said. "It made me want to do little creative projects and stuff. I feel like it gave me energy."
For Heidrick there was a period of sobriety, but after her marriage fell apart she says she really fell off the wagon. Eventually Heidrick tried crystal meth and heroin.
"The reason I tried the other drugs is I just lost any boundaries I had with myself at that point in my life."
Heroin is less expensive than painkillers, Heidrick said. While feeling wasn't exactly the same for her, Heidrick said it got the job done and she wouldn't feel sick from withdrawals.
Now Heidrick is on the road to recovery. When KGUN9 first met up with her she had been at The Haven for 49 days. 
The Haven is a recovery program for women in Tucson. It includes outpatient and residential services and allows women to receive counseling services for addiction,  while maintaining their family lives. Children are allowed to visit their mothers and can live at the site as well if they are under the age of 8.
Joyce Morgan, the chief of clinical services at The Haven, says giving women a steady home is crucial for recovery. 
"If women leave treatment and don't have a stable secure environment to move to, then they're returning to the communities that led them here," Morgan said. 
While experts agree there is a place for opiates in our society, it should be limited. Earlier this year the US surgeon general sent a letter to doctors across the country with suggestions on how to curb addiction. 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 78 Americans die every day from opioid overdose. Since 1999 the agency reports the number of overdose deaths involving opioids nearly quadrupled.
According to a report from the Pima County Medical Examiner's Office, in 2015 there were 379 deaths attributed to drug overdoses. Of that number 93 were heroin related, 90 were methampehtamine related, and 57 were related to oxycodone. 
Morgan says over the years they have seen an increase in opioid addiction and that often comes with addictions to other substances like alcohol.
"I think what is the most frustrating is knowing the benefits of medical assisted treatment, and watching clients who are receiving medical assisted treatment circumvent the system and receive opiates on top of that," Morgan said.
For now Heidrick's nine-year-old son is what's keeping her going. She might not know what the future holds, but it's looking up. 
"I'm excited for the new life. I don't know what it is yet. you know," Heidrick said. "But I love my son very much and I'm determined for us to be happy. It's going be a good life."
For more information on services at The Haven, click here