Opioid Generic

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Struggling is all Michael Standiford has known for most of his life.

"Drugs and alcohol became my high power," he said. "It ran my life. It determined when I ate, when I slept."

The Jeffersonville, Indiana, native has overdosed several times.

"I leaned on the front counter and I told the lady, 'I just ate a lot of drugs and I'm dying,'" Standiford said. "Meth took me on a downward spiral really quick."

He was also robbed and shot in 2018 in Louisville. Each time, the emergency room staff at U of L Health saved his life.

"Fortunately I'm here," Standiford said.

He recently wrote a letter, thanking the doctors and nurses, hoping to remind them that the work they're doing matters.

"Every time I went there, they reminded me there's good people in this world, and there's people that really care," Standiford said. "Even when I gave up on myself, they never gave up on me. I had given up, but they never did.

"Thank God for that."

It's a reminder a lot of the medical professionals need to hear. Not only are they dealing with an unprecedented pandemic. It's causing a domino effect.

People struggling with mental health and drugs, like Standiford was, are multiplying.

"Drug overdoses and visits for substance abuse, and psychiatric illness kind of went up," said Dr. Martin Huecker with U of L Health.

Overdose deaths are also up.

"People are under more stress," Huecker said. "People cannot get to medication assisted treatment or medications for Opioid Abuse Disorder, so they're using illicit drugs."

Standiford admits COVID-19 hasn't made staying on the straight and narrow easy, especially at his new home in Florida.

"The biggest concern is that the 12-step programs are not open," he said.

But he's two years sober, and he's committed to keeping it that way.

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