Shelby County addiction professional: Teens are not afraid to use needles

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ALABASTER, Ala. (WIAT) — Susan Staats-Sidwell has a front row seat to the shocking display of drug abuse in Shelby County.

She operates the Shelby County Treatment Center, a methadone clinic in Alabaster where people addicted to opiates like heroin or other pain medications come for help. It’s a last-ditch effort, she says, when other treatment methods are not enough.

“If someone says, ‘Why change one drug out for another,’ that’s not what all of this is about,” Staats-Sidwell said. “This is where somebody can’t take the medication as prescribed and they start hurting the community, hurting themselves, hurting their family.”

Staats-Sidwell sees patients whose lives have been disrupted, if not destroyed, by drug abuse. She says this generation of teenagers isn’t as cautious around needles.

“It’s so big with the teenagers in this town,” Staats-Sidwell said. “So many people I’ve seen haven’t tried a pill ever and they go to a party and shoot up.”

One high could lead to a lifelong struggle with addiction. We told Sidwell about the former Columbiana pastor’s arrest on drug charges. She says it brings out an important point about the stigma associated with addiction.

“Why did he not feel comfortable going to the members of his church about this? What happened there? This disease grabs you,” Staats-Sidwell said.

Staats-Sidwell hopes people struggling with addiction in Shelby County will seek some sort of treatment before the disease takes over their lives.

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