Philadelphia Medicine, Fall 2017 - 14

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Feature

Three Faces of Addiction...
Their Lives Can Tell Us
Quite a Bit About
the Opioid Epidemic
By: Alan Miceli, Editor

T

heo Gordon-Hardy's gateway drug was not a doctor-prescribed
opioid. It was marijuana. The 27-year-old, who now lives
in Newtown Square, Delaware County, started smoking
when he was 13, and eventually moved on to opioids and heroin.

Kris McFadden - now 37 and living in Berks County - got
hooked on painkillers when he was a freshman quarterback for East
Stroudsburg University. In his very first college game he suffered
a third-degree separation of the AC joint of his shoulder which
ended his football career and started him on the road to addiction.
Mark, a 22-year-old Delaware County resident who does not
want us to use his real name, was recently released from the George
W. Hill Correctional Facility in Cheyney. The judge sent him to
the county prison for six months, after he broke a plea deal for two
DUIs. Instead of fulfilling the deal by picking up trash along roads on
weekends, Mark spent his weekends, and the weekdays in between,
getting high. At one point, he tried to kill himself.

Theo Gordon-Hardy, Recovering Addict, 4 Years, Co-Founder,
Healthy Habitats Recovery Living Community

There are 2.6 million people in this country like these three young Theo's Story
men. They're addicted to opioids, and this year, about 60,000 of
Theo doesn't believe that his addiction had much to do with his
them are expected to die from overdoses - more than 4,600 of
family
life. He was in a financially stable home, despite his parents'
them in Pennsylvania.
divorce when he was a year old. He lived with his mother, and saw
Some critics of the current effort to confront the opioid epidemic his father once a week and every other weekend. He was diagnosed
say we as a nation didn't pay much attention until the scourge with detachment disorder when he was young, but says he recognized
expanded from the inner city to the suburbs. They make a good that he was loved by his parents. He was the only child in his family
point. Our focus certainly has intensified since the epidemic invaded of four children who ended up addicted to drugs. "I was a happy,
adventurous kid. I was not depressed."
virtually every community in the country.
He started using marijuana when he was 13. He first smoked weed
Theo, Kris and Mark fit the profile of today's most common user.
They're young white men. Seven out of every 10 overdose victims in to hang out with teens who he felt were fun to be around. "When I
was drinking and using drugs, I found a clique that made me feel cool."
Pennsylvania last year were white men in their 20s and 30s.

14 Philadelphia Medicine : Fall 2017



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