Families Share the Other Side of
Substance Use Disorder

West Virginians tell their stories

Bruce, a husband

“I think the biggest thing that you can do for someone is one, be the biggest support system that you can. And two, even if it’s the dumbest sign, try to catch stuff early.”

Bruce continues to be his wife Lisa’s support system during her substance use disorder recovery.

CeCe, a mother

“From the very moment that we lost him, I said ‘I don’t want one more person to die.’ We went to a meeting and there was a man there and heard our story. He was in recovery and said to us, ‘your son’s death was preventable.’ And that’s what I needed to trigger that in me to know that, okay, now that I know that it’s preventable, then there’s something I can do.”

CeCe’s son Ryan overdosed and passed away. Afterward, she began networking and building relationships. She and her husband launched International Overdose Awareness Day in Charleston.

JoAnna, a daughter

“Ultimately it is the communities that help the people … I started off doing a lot of event organizing because I really liked that aspect of bringing people together to celebrate. There’s so much hurt all the time. You need to have people together to empower them … to give them hope.”

At 15, JoAnna lost her father to a fatal overdose. Seeing gifts from high school classmates at his funeral helped her realize she was not alone.

They got their life back. You can too.

Opioid use disorder can affect anyone, regardless of race, gender, age, or social class. But supervised treatment with medication, along with the support of community and loved ones, makes recovery possible.

Explore stories from West Virginians whose lives have been affected by opioid use disorder. They found the courage to seek treatment and are now living meaningful lives in recovery.

See their stories


“It can happen to anybody, anytime. It can be your cousin, your daughter, your sister … it doesn’t discriminate who it picks.”

Lisa’s addiction began as a teenager. After breaking her ankle she was prescribed hydrocodone. Struggling for most of her 20s, she found herself in detox and now helps others to recover and educates the public about the importance of carrying Naloxone.


“There’s this idea that anyone who does drugs or drinks in excess and is in active addiction or has been in active addiction that they are this bad person. The people in active addiction are people.”

Jamie became pregnant and checked herself in to a detox center. She describes addiction as a roller coaster, but encourages others they can recover too. She believes whether someone is in active addiction or recovery, they are still people. With the right tools and help, she believes most do recover.


“You can’t lift anybody up by putting them down because they already feel that way. They need to know they are worth it. They are worthy”

Edna’s addiction began at a very young age and years later, she eventually went to prison. At age 48, she was released and she made the decision to change her life. She now shares her addiction story as a peer support specialist in hopes of helping and encouraging others.


“I’ve been in other programs, but none like this program that really actually wants to help you.”

Working in the steel industry, John suffered multiple work-related injuries. When his doctor prescribed opioids to manage the pain, he started down a dangerous path to addiction. It wasn’t until treatment with medication that life changed for John.


“The biggest thing that I’ve learned in my recovery is that everything I’ve done, the good, the bad, the ugly and the in-between, has got me where I am right now.”

Bailey will be the first to tell you she had the decision-making skills of a 14-year-old – the age when she began using drugs. Recovery for her meant relearning how to be an honest and responsible person, so she could become the mom and manager she is today.


“I will always carry a tremendous amount of guilt for things I missed out on with my daughter because I was too sick to be present.”

Cassidy became addicted after having a wisdom tooth removed. Later, she had a healthy baby daughter. She then began the journey to recovery and now helps those fighting addiction.