Opi­oid epi­demic hits home for Arkansas fam­ily

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL - SCOTT CAR­ROLL In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Eric Bes­son of the Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette.

Hope Hank­ins was driv­ing to work the morn­ing of April 11 when she got a phone call from her daugh­ter’s boyfriend.

“She’s done it again,” he told her.

Hank­ins’ daugh­ter, Made­line Tate, had over­dosed on a com­bi­na­tion of heroin and fen­tanyl. It was her third over­dose in­volv­ing heroin since 2015.

Hank­ins tear­fully re­called wait­ing at CHI St. Vin­cent In­fir­mary for doc­tors to let her see Tate. She re­mem­bers be­ing grate­ful that her 20-yearold daugh­ter sur­vived. But she also re­mem­bers be­ing an­gry.

Hank­ins said she and her hus­band Tom had sought help for Tate for years. She’d had four stints at drug re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­ters. They had ar­ranged for court-or­dered drug testing. They had even hired a pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tor to keep tabs on Tate.

But Tate’s ad­dic­tion kept win­ning.

“Try­ing to get help for some­one in this sit­u­a­tion is nearly im­pos­si­ble,” Tom Hank­ins said.

Tate’s drug abuse had dev­as­tat­ing ef­fects on her body.

The morn­ing of her fen­tanyl over­dose, when doc­tors at CHI St. Vin­cent In­fir­mary de­cided to give her nalox­one, they found that her veins were so swollen and ir­ri­tated from drug abuse that it was not a vi­able path­way to de­liver the anti-opi­oid medicine.

So they drilled a hole into Tate’s leg bone to ac­cess her ve­nous sys­tem, a painful pro­ce­dure known as in­traosseous in­fu­sion.

Her fam­ily has also felt a phys­i­cal toll from her ad­dic­tion. Hope Hank­ins said her con­stant stress and wor­ry­ing has in­creased her blood pres­sure and caused her hair to fall out in clumps. She said she’s also sought treat­ment for anx­i­ety at­tacks.

There’s also cry­ing and ar­gu­ments be­tween her and her hus­band. The fights come from their frus­tra­tion, their help­less­ness over how to help their daugh­ter.

“It’s like a hell I’d never wish my en­emy to have to live in,” Hope Hank­ins said.

The two are op­ti­mistic about Tate’s chances for so­bri­ety this time. She’s at a 90-day treat­ment cen­ter in Mis­sis­sippi, the long­est pro­gram she’s tried. Hope Hank­ins vis­ited a few weeks ago and said there was a “light and bright­ness” in her daugh­ter’s eyes that she hadn’t seen in years.

“We don’t know if this is the end or not,” Tom Hank­ins said. “But we pray to God it is.”

In Arkansas, 392 peo­ple died from drug over­doses in 2015, a rate of 13.8 peo­ple per 100,000, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est fig­ures from the U.S. Cen­ters for Disease Con­trol and Preven­tion.

“You think that drug ad­dic­tion and heroin ad­dic­tion is so far away from you,” Hope Hank­ins said. “It’s not. It’s right here.”

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