WASHINGTON, DC – Throughout Opioid Crisis Awareness Week, we are sharing the personal stories from the opioid crisis, stories we heard last year during a roundtable discussion with families and patients who have felt the devastation of the crisis next door.
Please watch Emmett’s story below.
Emmett Scannell at his high school graduation. Click here or on the image above to listen to Emmett’s story.
Emmett was the first child of Aimee Manzoni D’Arpino, who testified at the Energy and Commerce Committee hosted roundtable to share her son’s story.
“Emmett was my first born,” said Aimee. “He was the child who taught me how to be a mom.”
When Emmett was in high school, Aimee discovered that he was experimenting with synthetic marijuana. Aimee immediately took Emmett to recovery support to “nip this in the bud and send him on the right path.”
It worked. Emmett excelled academically in the National Honor Society and socially before heading off to college. As Aimee told us, “life was just really good while he was in recovery.”
But when Emmett went to college, he lost the support mechanisms that once surrounded him, and fell back into drug use. Without Aimee’s knowledge, Emmett began using heroin, overdosing seven times before being revived at the hospital.
Then on April 20, 2016, Aimee received the call that every parent dreads – Emmett died of a heroin overdose. He was just 20 years old.
“It is heartbreaking to think that he was alone in a hospital room,” Aimee said.
“People are afraid of appearances and afraid of what people will think if they find out their loved ones suffer from substance use disorder,” she continued. “If we could get rid of that element and reduce that stigma, and if we could share experiences about what has worked and what hasn’t worked, and work toward effective treatment, it would make a huge difference.”
In 2018, Congress passed – according to NBC News – the “most ambitious Congressional effort yet” to combat the opioid crisis. Among many provisions dedicated to promoting treatment and recovery, section 7102 of the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act focuses specifically on youth prevention and recovery. This provision provides resources for prevention of and recovery from substance use disorders in children, adolescents, and young adults like Emmett.
A main goal of the SUPPORT Act is to prevent the disease of addiction from ever afflicting our youth, and to ensure that young people suffering from substance use disorder and their families have the support they need so that promising lives like Emmett’s are not lost to this crisis.