There are thousands of drug rehab facilities across the United States that provide counseling, case management, behavioral therapy and other services to people struggling with addiction. Though health insurance may assist with covered individuals, I believe there is a lack of protection for addicts. Things may be improving, but unfortunately, it was too late for my wife. Below is my story…
My wife suffered from a devastating car accident in 2010. She almost lost her foot and had to undergo numerous surgeries, pain and severe depression. Her doctor prescribed painkillers and she started to become addicted. Soon after, when the painkillers weren’t readily available, she began smoking marijuana. This relieved her pain, helped her sleep soundly, and reduced her depression on the surface.
Eventually, the marijuana usage became excessive for her and she needed to commence in-patient rehab. The rehab facility was somewhat helpful, but not when it came to revenue. Our current insurance only covered 2-3 visits per week. Toward the end of her treatment, they told us that she needed to start coming in 5 days per week. I’m a bit unclear as to why this was the new requirement for her case, despite that she was mainly in full compliance.
My wife and I struggled to make ends meet since money was very tight. We could barely afford the 2-3 steep copays per week and were certainly not able to pay 5 copays per week. Unfortunately, the rehab facility was not able to work with us due to our financial constraints. My wife, in essence, was left “hanging” with her extremely difficult situation. Would a cancer doctor do this to their patient? Would someone suffering from heart complications be deprived of getting help from their cardiologist? In my strong opinion, drug addicts are not viewed as having a disease and are looked at differently. This needs to change!
A few weeks later, on a Sunday, I dropped my wife off to get tattooed at a local tattoo shop. She loved getting tattooed. In the early evening, I got a call from the local hospital. The head ER nurse said, “You’ve got to come down here immediately. There has been a really bad accident.” I pressed her to tell me what transpired, but she told me, “I’m not at liberty to say anything over the phone.” I knew something was wrong and I was terrified. I immediately called my father and we went to the ER. When we first entered, I told the security guard my name and I saw sorrow in his face.
After getting through security, we met with the head nurse who appeared to be slightly distracted. I kept asking her what happened and she didn’t tell me right away. Soon after, my father, head nurse and I went into a small private room. She informed me, “Your wife was at the tattoo shop, she overdosed, and she’s no longer with us.” My world collapsed. I was rushed with intense sadness, anger and a variety of emotions. She died at only 35 years of age.
I’m not blaming the US healthcare system and rehab facility for her death, but more certainly needs to be legislated to help addicts. Also, I firmly believe that society as a whole needs to be more acceptant and supportive of addicts.
-The Single Dad