A Generation of Addiction Inside Appalachia

Nov 4, 2016

For a generation of Appalachians, growing up with a parent addicted or abusing drugs is a way of life. On this week’s episode of Inside Appalachia, we hear from men and women who have experienced the effects of opioid addiction and of the innocence that this epidemic has claimed.

In the United States, drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death. Appalachian communities are among some of the hardest hit by this issue. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), West Virginia has the highest rate of drug overdoses in the country, with Ohio and Kentucky ranking in the top five.

It destroys relationships, families and communities. What’s it like to be addicted to something? What's it like when your addiction makes all the rules, even how you care for your kids and whether you live or die?

Growing Up With a Parent Addicted

Kristina Weaver, or Breezie, grew up in southern West Virginia with a loving family and father who struggled with addiction. Her father, David Siers, died in June of 2015 of a heroin overdose.

 

In this episode, producers Matt Shafer Powell and Jess Mador, with WUOT's podcast Truckbeat, share stories from east Tennessee. We'll hear from recovering addicts, their families, as well as members of law enforcement, such as Sheriff Jack Stockton, whose own son suffers with addiction.

Foster Parents Wanted

Liz McCormick introduces us to the Holbens, a foster care family who is seeing first hand how the opioid crisis is affecting children- and we’ll hear what they’re doing to try to help.

The statistics and the stories you’ll hear in this episode paint a bleak picture. However, not all hope is lost. The youth are taking notice and fighting back. Last fall, President Obama visited West Virginia to learn more about the opioid crisis. The students of Riverwood High School interviewed people in their community about the problem and produced a short film called “Mr. President, We Want You To Know…”

Since his visit in October 2015, President Obama advocated for improved drug monitoring and increased funding for treatment. Congress passed a bill in July called the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act of 2016. The law aims to expand grant-funded prevention and education efforts. After it passed, the White House called it a “small step in the right direction.”

Music in today’s show was provided by Sam Keenan, Ben Townsend, Jake Schepps and Michael Howard.

Our producer is Roxy Todd. Our editor this week is Glynis Board. Our audio mixer is Zander Aloi.

We’d love to hear from you. You can e-mail us at feedback@wvpublic.org. Find us on Twitter @InAppalachia or @JessicaYLilly.