For this family, heroin really is an emergency

Sherry Sizemore finds hope in recovery
Posted at 10:25 PM, Oct 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-17 12:25:21-04

Correction: A prior version of this story incorrectly stated Sizemore's deceased son struggled with heroin addiction. Instead, Sizemore said he had a "very bad addiction to drugs," but she later told WCPO he never used heroin. WCPO regrets this error.

HAMILTON, Ohio -- When Sherry Sizemore checked herself into the Genesis Center of Excellence in June, she believed her choices in life had been whittled down to two: She would get help for her heroin addiction, or she would die.

One of her sons had killed himself in 2006 after struggling with "a very bad addiction to drugs." Sizemore said she struggled with opiate addiction for the past 11 years.

On June 11, 2017, she discovered her remaining sons, her ex-husband and a pair of their friends clustered around needles, spoons and cups of water in their living room.

"I don't want to live no more," she told the Genesis Center later that night.

A staff member put their arm around her and told her there was help.

Sizemore is one of nearly 2 million people estimated to have dealt with opioid addiction in the United States alone. Tens of thousands died in 2016 alone, according to numbers published by Vox.

President Donald Trump announced Monday he planned to formally declare the opioid crisis a national emergency the following week.

He had previously made the same promise in August, but action failed to follow words for two months -- a delay White House officials said was due to the legal complexity of making the declaration.

For patients such as Sizemore, it can't come soon enough.

"This drug comes straight from hell," she said. "It needs to be stopped. It's taking their lives."