Overdose deaths in Salem County have risen each year from five in 2013 to 43 in 2019, according to the NJ Coordinator for Addiction Responses and Enforcement Strategies.
In hopes of reducing opioid use and opioid-related deaths, SMC recently launched the Emergency Department Addiction Pathways program— a medication-assisted treatment program for opioid use disorders.
“We want to be the place where patients can turn when they need help,” said Dr. Tammy Torres, CEO. “Too many lives are lost due to opioid addiction. We want to lower those numbers.”
In honor of International Overdose Awareness Day on Aug. 31, SMC hopes to bring awareness to this tragic epidemic by sharing this story of loss.
She Wanted to Live
She was an award-winning dancer, a pageant queen, and a role model. But now she’s dead because of a heroin addiction that started with prescription pain killers.
Alanna Liable of Pennsville Township died on January 24, 2018, of a heroin overdose at the age of 33.
“It was pills that started it all,” said Erin Liable, Alanna’s mother.
Alanna was injured while snowboarding in 2013 and was given a prescription for Percocet.
“She was given a two-month prescription then cut off with no plan for pain management,” Liable said. “She started to withdraw and was still in pain, so she was getting pain killers off the street. They were expensive, so the dealer told her heroin was the same but much cheaper. She was so sick from withdraw that she crossed that line and sold her soul to the devil.”
She first went into rehab in January 2016. She came home in May and survived another overdose on Mother’s Day.
After several more overdoses, she went to a facility in Prescott, AZ, in August of the same year. It was there where she finally beat the demon.
“She did so well out there that she became a counselor herself,” Liable said.
Alanna wanted to live. However, when she returned to Pennsville in May 2017, she was pulled back into her addiction.
“She was slipping from the time she came home,” Liable said. “She had already lost custody of her daughter, was arrested, and overdosed several more times. I begged her to go back to rehab, but she said she didn’t want to leave her daughter ever again — not by rehab, jail or dying.”
The overdose that took Alanna’s life was her thirteenth.
“She never wanted this for her life,” Liable said.
Just two days after her death, a friend from the Arizona facility wrote this on her still-active Facebook page: “Your voice telling me to stay at the facility just one more night is something I took with me and held onto more than you know. I could tell you wanted to live. You inspired me and I never got the chance to tell you how much you impacted my life.”
Liable struggles with her daughter’s death every day.
“My heart has been ripped out,” she said. “She was the love of my life. I just want her back.”
Through the Addiction Pathways program, patients can come to the ED and request to be started on buprenorphine — a medication used to treat opioid disorders.
If you or someone you love needs help, please call the Addiction Pathways program at 856-469-8092 or come to the ED.