March 01, 2017

Dead or in jail

I spent a good chunk of Monday talking with women who were recovering from opioid addiction. This was part of an ongoing effort to interview people whose lives were touched by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Two of those women were particularly memorable. Both were parents who regained control of their lives thanks to medically assisted treatment they were able to access due to the the decision by then WV Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to expand Medicaid under the ACA.

One spoke of loved ones lost to overdoses, including a fiance who was like a father to her son. Another told of her experience with jail and probation. Thanks to treatment, both had been clean for several months, were holding down a job, paying taxes, maintaining a home, and caring for their children. Both were proud of being made assistant managers at their jobs.

Both said that "nobody wakes up one morning and decides to become an addict." Both were glad to finally be drug free and in control, for the first time in their adult lives.

When I asked how their lives would be different without the treatment the ACA supports, the answers were pretty stark: "Dead or in jail."

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