OLEAN, NY —After reading “Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic” by Sam Quinones for her internship at the Council on Addiction Recovery Services, Kelly Goble knew she wanted others to read it too.

Goble, who interns for CAReS in residential operations for a master’s degree requirement at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford and also is employed by CAReS as a prevention specialist, was inspired to contact the Olean Public Library about sponsoring a book discussion.

“I wanted to get this book in as many people’s hands as possible,” Goble said.

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The discussion on “Dreamland,” which gives personal accounts of addicts, drug traffickers, law enforcement officials and multiple families affected by the American opioid crisis, took place on Oct. 26 in honor of National Substance Abuse Prevention Month.

Mindy Vail, a recovery coach for CAReS, facilitated a discussion among seven participants. The opening topic was painkillers as gateway drugs.

“Heroin is cheaper than pills,” Vail said. “When there are no more or when [addicts] can’t afford them, heroin is the closest thing to it and cheaper.”

Among the discussion participants was her husband, Bryan Vail; both of them are in recovery. He said he knew three people who died from heroin overdoses. All of them seemed “normal” because they were hiding their addiction.

“It baffles you,” he said.

Fentanyl was another topic of discussion. Mindy Vail described it as “a strong painkiller. Now, it’s getting added to things and people are overdosing.” 

She added that people sometimes seek out fentanyl because of the high it gives, which she described as a Superman complex.

“You don’t think it’s going to kill you until it does,” she said.

After the book discussion ended, Vail gave her own story, speaking candidly on her history with alcoholism and drug addiction and recovery.

She began drinking when she was young, and the problem became worse as she aged, peaking when she became a bartender at 18. 

One day, she suffered an injury at work and was prescribed painkillers. She began using them to escape the abuse her first husband put her through. As time went on, she also became addicted to painkillers and cocaine.

When she reached her breaking point, she went to CAReS for treatment and started her journey to recovery.

Now, she’s happily married, is proud of being a recovery coach at CAReS and has been clean for almost five years.

“They have to hit a bottom before they can get better. Then, they can claw their way back up to the top. There’s always hope,” Vail said.

Hotlines are available 24/7 for those who are struggling with addiction or who know someone who is struggling with addiction. One is 1-855-275-6914.

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