Denver-Area Paramedic/Firefighter Recovers from Opioid/Heroin Addiction

Betty Ford Center Children's Program helps Jeremiah G's family learn to trust and live again.

Betty Ford Center Children's Program helps Jeremiah G's family learn to trust and live again

As a paramedic and firefighter for over a decade, Jeremiah G. was the one doing the rescuing. However, an opioid addiction swapped his role from lifesaver to patient. Learn more about Jeremiah and his family's story and the role the Betty Ford Center Children's Program played in their recovery.

Aurora, Colo. (October 20, 2016)—For 12 years, Jeremiah G. has been the one giving accident victims and others with life-threatening injuries a chance at life. As a paramedic, he has responded to all types of emergency calls, from car crashes and fires to heart attacks and minor injuries. But he never thought he would be the one needing help.

"I've always suffered from mild to major depression in my life," says Jeremiah. "When anti-depressants stopped working, I began to self-medicate."

At first Jeremiah was proud that he was not using opioids, but that didn't last long. Through the Internet, he was able to procure what he needed, including heroin and fentanyl. He was taking it every day, and it began to change who he was.

"We get so many families afflicted with opioid addiction lately," says Jerry Moe, National Director of the Betty Ford Center Children's Program. "We see more grandparents bringing the children to our program because the parents are addicted, and we've been to more funerals than ever before. The opioid addiction crisis is hitting this country hard, but the kids can come out learning and accepting that their parent's addiction is not their fault."

In late August of 2016, Colorado was one of several states to share a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to expand treatment and prevention of heroin and opioid use. This was due to the fact that Colorado was among the states with the highest rates of primary treatment admissions for heroin and prescription opioids per capita as well as a dramatic rise in reported use.

Jeremiah's wife Anne was surprised to learn that he was one of the many in Colorado who had become addicted. "I had no idea what was going on. He hid it so well."

The children, however, knew something was wrong when dad began to sleep longer and wasn't able to play with them.

"There was a lot of fighting," says 13-year-old Gracie.

"It really hurt when Dad was always tired or sad," says 9-year-old Weston.

In 2015, Jeremiah's workplace discovered the addiction and gave him a second chance. He went to an area treatment facility for an 8 week intensive, outpatient treatment. It was at that rehab that Anne first heard of the Betty Ford Center Children's Program.

"The director of the rehab told me about it," says Anne. "Before we could enroll Weston and Gracie, Jeremiah had to be 30 days sober, but as soon as we could, we got the kids into the program. They loved it."

"The Betty Ford Center Children's Program taught us how to talk to each other," says Gracie. "We learned how to trust again."

"My dad is my hero," says Weston. "I'm happy he's back."

For decades, The Betty Ford Center has administered counseling to children of adults suffering from addiction. At its regional centers in Dallas, Denver and Rancho Mirage, California, counselors assist children with how to identify and express their feelings, develop self-care skills, and deepen communication with parents.

About the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation
The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation helps people reclaim their lives from the disease of addiction. It is the nation's largest nonprofit treatment provider, with a legacy that began in 1949 and includes the 1982 founding of the Betty Ford Center. With 16 sites in California, Minnesota, Oregon, Illinois, New York, Florida, Massachusetts, Colorado and Texas, the Foundation offers prevention and recovery solutions nationwide and across the entire continuum of care for youth and adults. It includes the largest recovery publishing house in the country, a fully-accredited graduate school of addiction studies, an addiction research center, an education arm for medical professionals and a unique children's program, and is the nation's leader in advocacy and policy for treatment and recovery. Learn more at www.HazeldenBettyFord.org and on Twitter @hazldnbettyford.

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