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Program Director Julie Huneycutt became involved with HopeRx after the loss of her own daughter, Anna, to a prescription opiate overdose in March 2010. In her teenage years, Anna became addicted to opiates after being exposed to them through a routine wisdom teeth extraction and a tonsillectomy.
When Anna was in the middle of her addiction, she was in and out of AdventHealth Hendersonville, Park Ridge Health at the time. One night, she called her mom from the emergency room saying she had an infected bug bite, but that her mom should stay back and not worry. Immediately, Huneycutt and her husband drove to the hospital. When they got there, they were shocked to see a bump the size of a golf ball on Anna’s elbow. It turned out she had a bad needle injection site that had moved into MRSA.
“We were waiting for her to move into surgery and the nurses asked, ‘Can we pray?’ I said, ‘Yes, absolutely. Please.’ And one of the nurses prayed a prayer that we now pray at HopeRx, and that is that God would fill the void that the drugs were trying to fill. It meant so much to us that hospital staff would hold hands with us and pray before our daughter went into surgery, and that they would recognize that the void in Anna would only be filled by God. That will always stay with me.”
Anna was 20 years old when she passed away.
“When Anna passed, my husband and I knew that we did not want to be silent anymore. Stigma and shame had kept and continue to keep too many people from receiving the help they so desperately need,” Huneycutt said. “Through raising awareness about the dangers of misusing prescription drugs, I became involved in forming HopeRx and in 2014 was asked to be the director of the program.”
Huneycutt’s story and efforts to raise awareness led others to come forward and share their own story. People started to hear about scenarios in homes nobody expected, and suddenly there was an awareness in the community that didn’t exist before because of the associated shame. As the HopeRx team heard those new stories, they expanded their focus beyond opioids.
One of those stories was from Courtney Lowery.