CHARLESTOWN, Mass. — A new study revealed the opioid epidemic in the U.S. has cost the economy $631 billion over the past four years. The society of actuaries released the report, which was higher than the CDC's, but lower than the White House's.
A "mock injection site" is coming soon to Mass. General Charlestown. A local parent supports the idea – and for her, it's personal. That mother will take her powerful message to the State House next week.
"I never in a million years thought my son was going to die," said Cheryl Juaire, who lost her son to an overdose.
It's the loss that ripped away a piece of her heart eight years ago, and for Juaire the pain surrounding her son Corey's overdose hasn't changed.
"My son died alone in a halfway house by himself from a heroin overdose," she said. "There's not a moment I don't think of him. What could I have done differently?"
She says one revelation since her 23-year-old son's untimely death revolves around recognizing the addiction he lost his life to and what else she now feels could’ve been done to address it.
"When he tried to explain to me what addiction was, I wouldn't listen because I thought it was a choice," she said. "Until I got educated, I thought safe consumption sites were just a place where they could be enabled."
She tells Boston 25 News that her grief has guided her to dig deeper into safe injection sites as a temporary solution to allow drug users to get high under medical supervision, with hopes of ultimately getting them help.
"If that was available at that time and I understood it more, my son may still be alive," she said.
Juaire keeps a display of photos and other mementos honoring her son by her front door as a reminder of why this mission is so important to save families from the same fate.
"The goal isn't to get them there and get them high, that's not the goal," Juaire said. "The goal is [to] save a life one more day."
A mother in mourning now a matriarch on a movement. Juaire plans to offer a strong presence supporting the controversial concept during a panel at the mock safe injection site hosted by MGH Charlestown Health Center Wednesday through Friday.
She will also be speaking at the State House next week in an effort to launch a groundbreaking bill for safe injection sites in Massachusetts.
"One day I'm going to see my son, and I want him to say, 'well done mom, you did get it,'" she said.
Juaire, who founded "Team Sharing," an organization for parents who lost a child to addiction, recently traveled to Philadelphia to support an on-going legal battle over what could be the first supervised injection facility in the U.S.
A federal judge recently ruled in favor of efforts to open that site.
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