I do it for Denise

Rebecca Johnson
Tell us about your (or your loved one's) recovery journey. What has been the most rewarding part?

I have spent the 22 months since my mother’s death working through my loss by educating myself on our healthcare and emergency response systems. Her addiction to prescription opioids is the reason I have become an advocate for pain management education and reform. It has become the platform for my political voice in the community. Opioid addiction runs rampant in this small county. The number of overdoses is staggering. My mother’s caused her death.
I share her story because I want to put an end to the stigma. I rise up with those who choose to talk about and understand the impact of addiction on our lives.

Two years ago, Denise’s overdose nearly killed me as well. It certainly and irreparably damaged my heart. But today I have become stronger and more resolute for my daughter and in honor of my beautiful mother’s memory.

Today, I do it for Denise.

October 7th, 2016, I lost my mother Denise to Hydrocodone toxicity. She was 59 years old.
In the middle of night, during Hurricane Matthew, she died on her living room floor after entering respiratory distress. Emergency services had been suspended and 911 calls could not be dispatched due to the severity of the storm. The tragedy haunts me in every way to this day.
She was a fully functioning addict, so to speak.
She’d been taking prescription pain pills for the better part of 15 years and had all of the MRIs and necessary paperwork to legitimize her addiction. Our family had just come to accept that the pills were a part of her pain management regimen...never truly understanding the long term effects the opioids were having on her health.
We didn’t realize at the time that so many of her ailments were the direct result of long term Hydrocodone use.

We forever lost her because of an unintentional overdose and my daughter who was 2 at the time, will never know the amazing woman that I called mom.