‘That was the hole inside of me’: Overdoses climb nationwide, survivors stress prevention to save lives

SPOKANE, Wash. — Drug overdose deaths are up 30 percent nationwide, according to the CDC. More people are struggling to deal with life’s uncertainty’s and challenges during the Pandemic. These addictions are affecting people from all walks of life. That’s why survivors and addiction specialists are hoping to prevent addictions early on.

From a young age, Angie Holman lived with a hole in her soul. She masked the pain with alcohol.

“That was the hole that started inside of me,” she said.

She dealt with sexual abuse in her early years, bullying because of a physical disability and pain that she didn’t know how to cope with.

“When I was thirteen, I became very rebellious because of my environment at home,” Holman said.

At 13, she had her first drink. That was the beginning of a 27-year battle with alcoholism.

“Nobody educated me. That’s the biggest thing. No education,” she said.

Now, she wants more kids to get that lifesaving education early on.

“Parents, I encourage you so strongly to talk to your kids and talk to them often,” said Sarah McNew, coalition coordinator at West Spokane Wellness Partnership.

Through her work with the partnership, McNew is working to end abuse and misuse of substances in the community. This includes classes for families to coach them through these conversations.

“Don’t assume that they know substances are bad for them. Don’t assume that your youth knows the impacts that substances will have on them,” McNew said.

She also says parents should show young people how to avoid peer pressure — like how to say no to getting in a car with an intoxicated driver or accepting drugs at a party. The more kids feel comfortable and strong enough to say no, the more they can avoid substances Holman never thought she could live without.

“Toxicity is a drug by itself. It takes over you like you have no idea,” Holman said.

She’s 18 months clean and has never felt better about herself and her second chance in life.

“I have never felt so good in my life like I do today. The freedom — to know that I don’t even think about going and buying it,” she said.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, there is hope and healing. McNew’s team has workshops and resources for families to create healthy behaviors. You can learn more here.

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