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Opioid addiction not just a number for Collin County mom

Signing+her+book%2C+%22Healing+Scarred+Hearts%3A+A+Family%27s+Story+of+Addiction%2C+Loss%2C+and+Finding+Light%22%2C+for+a+former+addict%2C+mom+Sus%C3%A1n+Hoemke+was+featured+as+a+keynote+speaker+at+Let%27s+Talk+Opioids+in+Dallas.
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Opioid addiction not just a number for Collin County mom

Signing her book,

Signing her book, "Healing Scarred Hearts: A Family's Story of Addiction, Loss, and Finding Light", for a former addict, mom Susán Hoemke was featured as a keynote speaker at Let's Talk Opioids in Dallas.

Kasey Harvey

Signing her book, "Healing Scarred Hearts: A Family's Story of Addiction, Loss, and Finding Light", for a former addict, mom Susán Hoemke was featured as a keynote speaker at Let's Talk Opioids in Dallas.

Kasey Harvey

Kasey Harvey

Signing her book, "Healing Scarred Hearts: A Family's Story of Addiction, Loss, and Finding Light", for a former addict, mom Susán Hoemke was featured as a keynote speaker at Let's Talk Opioids in Dallas.

By Kasey Harvey, Liberty High School in Frisco, Texas

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Opioid addiction is not a number to Collin County mom Susán Hoemke.

It’s not a trend or a statistic.

It’s her reality.

In 2014, her 22-year-old son Hayden died as a result of his opioid addiction.

Now, she’s hoping her personal tragedy saves someone from enduring her pain.

Authoring the book Healing Scarred Hearts: A Family’s Story of Addiction, Loss, and Finding Light, Hoemke hopes to provide others with the information she wishes she had.

It’s easier just to put it down and walk away but that time is critical,”

— Collin County mom Susán Hoemke

“I wrote Healing Scarred Hearts for my family, and for my son, and for myself,” Hoemke said. “Basically to help others understand what it means to be an addict and how to recognize addiction before it escalates and gets really bad. I also wanted to educate young parents and students on what it means to know what substances are before things start getting really bad. I want this book to be used as a tool for families to bring them together and discuss the issues of substance abuse and make a change for the better.”

In the United States, opioid abuse has reached record highs, with the number of deaths due to opioid overdose in 2016 five times higher than in 1999. With addiction striking the nation, Texas, although having one of the lowest drug overdose rates in the country, is no different.

Since then, communities have felt the impact of the opioid epidemic.

“It tears the families up because they do everything they can to get their next fix,” School Resource Officer Glen Hubbard said. “They start failing in school. They start stealing because they don’t have any money to get what they need. Kind of start getting in trouble with the law and their health starts fading. There could be five kids in the family and all of them are great and one of them for some reason goes down and it affects all of them.”

In response to the growing problem of opioid addiction that leads to as many as 115 deaths from overdose every day, Dallas County Treatment Center organized Let’s Talk Opioids… A Day of Awareness in Dallas in late August where Hoemke spoke as a keynote.

Kasey Harvey
After losing her son in 2014, Collin County mom Susan Hoemke spent years authoring her book, Healing Scarred Hearts: A Family’s Story of Addiction, Loss, and Finding Light to help other families struggling with addiction.

“When people read my book, I’ve had people now tell me that my kid was struggling and my husband and I don’t know what to do so we’ve all read the book and we are all able to come now to the table and talk about it, be open about it, find solutions, and help our kid or help our loved one,” Hoemke said. “So that’s why I wrote the book. To help other people.”

With Hoemke’s son struggling just over 10 miles from campus at Lovejoy High School, Collin County has faced the tragedy head on. Extending across the DFW area, more steps have been taken to reduce the drug’s influence, including from a neurological perspective.

“We can talk all we want about the opioid epidemic, [but] it’s a pain epidemic,” University of Texas at Dallas neurologists Greg Dussor said to the Dallas Morning News. “Until we get a handle on why people are having pain and how we can stop it, you’re not addressing the underlying problem.”

Anyone who takes opioids is at risk for addiction, and it can be quick to escalate from there.

“I used to work juvenile law so I would see kids just start out with the minor stuff and then hooked on heroin and oxy and all sorts of things,” Hubbard said. “All the way to the point where they died. So it’s here in Frisco. We have a little bit of heroin, definitely the pills. Hydrocodone and oxy and things like that.”

“Do not wait to get your kid some help. Do not wait to talk to him about it,”

— Collin County mom Susán Hoemke

On a national level, the government and President Donald Trump have plans to limit drug use through education, cut the flow of drugs within communities, and expanding opportunities for successful treatment methods.

“We will work to strengthen vulnerable families and communities, and we will help to build and grow a stronger, healthier, and drug-free society,” president Donald Trump said in a briefing statement.

For communities that have struggled with addiction and figuring out how to stop it, Hoemke has advice for all parents.

“Do not wait to get your kid some help,” Hoemke said. “Do not wait to talk to him about it. I think a lot of times parents are reluctant when we don’t understand it when our kids are experimenting with drugs or we find something in their room and it’s easier just to put it down and walk away but that time is critical. So if you have a son, daughter, loved one that you find out that they’ve been using opioids, talk about it.”

Opioid Infographic by Juleanna Marie Culilap

This story was originally published on Wingspan on January 31, 2019.

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