PROVO – A recent report shows drug deaths in the United States are on the rise, and BYU professor JoAnn Petrie is doing what she can to fight this epidemic.
Doctor Petrie had always had an interest in psychology. However, after the death of her son, Petrie’s focus on autism switched to addiction.
Professor Petrie’s son, Jordan, passed away 11 years ago. Her family discovered his addiction to heroin after his older brother found a blackened spoon in the bathroom. He brought it to Petri knowing Jordan needed help.
“I still have that spoon. The blackened bottom,” Petrie said.
Petrie said her son’s drug problem began when he got hurt playing football. Due to his injuries, he was given pain killers by a doctor.
“He was using heroin which would have come from his exposure to opiates that were prescribed pain killers.” Petrie says heroin affects the brain the same way opiates do, but heroin on the street is much cheaper.
Petrie and her family tried to get help for her son, but after nine months, Jordan’s fight ended in tragedy when he overdosed.
“When I got the call from the police officer I couldn’t believe it,” Petrie said. Doctor Petrie said those with addiction will often have up to seven relapses before they’re finally able to change the habit. Jordan’s story is only one of many.
“But we weren’t alone. I realized how unalone we were once we started talking about this,” said Petrie. Because of her experience with Jordan, Doctor Petrie became a drug and addiction counselor. Also, she now works in an addiction lab on the BYU campus.
“I’m happy to keep working to see if we can find, not necessarily a cure, but a better understanding of it,” stated Petrie.
Doctor Petrie hopes that through her and other professor’s work, medical professionals will know how to better treat addiction with an increased understanding of how people get hooked.
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