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Recovering addict warns of dangers after overdosing on fentanyl

Posted at 4:05 PM, Aug 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-09 18:14:06-04

You’ve seen the numbers and the reports, now one woman who overdosed on fentanyl wants people to hear how the deadly drug almost took her life.

Linda Harmon is a recovering addict.

She doesn’t deny the title, but she’s not allowing the label to define her.

Linda has had several bouts with heroin – at first only experimenting.

“Before you know it, it’s every day. Because it’s one of them drugs that just grabs you. It makes you feel so good that you want to be like that. You really want to be high like that,” she said.

Only then was she brought to a low –- overdosing five separate times.

Her most recent OD brought her to the hospital.

“They told me there was no heroin in my system. It was something, but it wasn’t heroin. I was told that they were using fentanyl and I think that’s what caused my OD,” Linda feared.

Linda is part of a growing number; those who’ve overdosed on Fentanyl in Baltimore City.

The Maryland Health Department reports fentanyl has killed more than 120 people just from January to March of this year in Baltimore.

That number is why Linda sought help.

“She’s such a nice person and the only thing she needs is somebody to support her and I am her support. I’m anybody’s support that comes through the ED and has an overdose, La’Asia Gardner, a peer recovery coach at the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Midtown Campus, said.

Gardner’s only known Linda for about a month.

The both of them say the relationship is not only helpful, but necessary.

Gardner is part of a peer recovery program that tries to keep addicts from using, and offers support to those if they relapse.

“Narcan isn’t a cure. It’s simply something that’s administered to reverse things,” Gardner said.
She calls the addiction a disease and not a choice, one that requires as much support as it does treatment.

It’s why she’s only a phone call away for Linda.

“They say once an addict, always an addict and I don’t want to believe that. I want to believe that once you’re off, you can live a successful life without drugs,” Linda said.

The Peer Recovery Program is available at the University of Maryland Medical Center and its Midtown Campus.