After fentanyl killed her soulmate, recovering drug person fights to finish stigma of habit

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When Paul Francs Duffy II bought a name that one other individual was delivered to the emergency room after an overdose, he would placed on his go well with and head to the hospital. Duffy, as a peer help specialist, would provide help to survivors — and encourage them to hunt remedy, similar to he had.

However for a time, at the same time as he labored to assist different addicts, Duffy was quietly struggling along with his personal sobriety. 

“That’s the insanity of addiction, right?” Gwen Dudley, Duffy’s associate, advised Day by day Put up. “Duffy knew from his job how dangerous this was, but he thought he had it under control.”

The final time Dudley noticed Duffy alive, they have been arguing about him going to get remedy.

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Paul Duffy II was a loving, devoted partner and father, Gwen Dudley says.

Paul Duffy II was a loving, devoted associate and father, Gwen Dudley says.
(Courtesy of Gwen Dudley )

“He thought he might lose his job,” she mentioned. “He was fearful to reach out and admit that he had been using and get help.”

“The stigma, even for people in recovery, it’s strong,” Dudley, herself a recovering addict, mentioned. 

Duffy, 32, died Might 2, 2021.

“He passed away due to a fentanyl poisoning, which is what I refer to it as, because it is,” Dudley advised Day by day Put up.

‘He saved folks’s lives’

Since Duffy’s loss of life, Dudley has fought to finish the disgrace related to habit in hopes that fewer folks will silently undergo till it is too late to hunt assist. She’s satisfied stigma prevented her “soulmate” from searching for assist.

“Addiction doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t have a face,” Dudley mentioned. “It is everybody.”

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Duffy, who glided by his final identify, was born and raised in Annapolis, Maryland the place Dudley and her son nonetheless stay. Like so many others, Duffy bought hooked on opioids by means of a reputable prescription — he’d initially been given OxyContin in highschool for a again damage, Dudley advised Day by day Put up.

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However when prescription opioids turned unaffordable, Duffy turned to a less expensive and extra accessible choice: heroin. Later, his drug of alternative turned cocaine and different amphetamine-like substances, although he would nonetheless use opioids to return down from the stimulants. 

Duffy was first introduced to opioids in high school when he was prescribed OxyContin for a back injury. 

Duffy was first launched to opioids in highschool when he was prescribed OxyContin for a again damage. 
(Courtesy of Gwen Dudley )

Dudley met Duffy in restoration virtually 5 years in the past. He’d been clear for a couple of 12 months, however had intermittent relapses, along with his longest interval of sobriety stretching 4 years.

“Duffy was charismatic, he was funny,” Dudley mentioned. “He was giving and loving and vivacious and had a lust for life that most people don’t.”

The 2 rapidly constructed a life collectively and had their son, Luca, who’s now 3 years previous. Whereas in restoration, Duffy was centered on bodily well being and was keen about serving to others.

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Finally, Duffy bought a job as a peer help specialist for the Anne Arundel County Well being Division in Maryland, a place created in a part of the county’s effort to battle the fentanyl disaster. 

“He saved people’s lives,” Dudley mentioned. “I was so proud of him.” 

“He was so amazed to be able to do that as a job with everything he’d been through,” she added. “Turned his pain into purpose.”

‘Habit does not discriminate’

Early in 2021, Duffy’s psychological well being started to show. The couple’s hectic work schedules turned even busier with a toddler — and Dudley’s father died of pancreatic most cancers.

Duffy died after he unknowingly took drugs laced with fentanyl.

Duffy died after he unknowingly took medicine laced with fentanyl.
(Courtesy of Gwen Dudley)

“I was definitely aware that Duffy was struggling,” she mentioned. “He was very depressed.”

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Duffy sought out a therapist who he in the end didn’t join with. As an alternative, he turned to alcohol, considering it was a substance he had management over. Quickly, Duffy was abusing medicine once more after practically three clear years.

Habit is “never what you think it looks like,” Dudley mentioned. “It stems from trauma, it stems from mental health issues, it stems from pain.”

“He tried to stop, but he couldn’t,” she advised Day by day Put up. “He was essentially using against his will.”

After two months, Duffy promised he would get assist after only one extra rating.

However he by no means got here residence.

Duffy unknowingly purchased medicine laced with fentanyl, an artificial opioid 50-100 occasions stronger than morphine, in response to the Nationwide Institute of Drug Abuse.

Dudley said Duffy knew about the dangers of fentanyl from his job but was

Dudley mentioned Duffy knew in regards to the risks of fentanyl from his job however was “essentially using against his will.”
(Courtesy of Gwen Dudley)

“Fentanyl is terrifying,” Dudley mentioned. “It keeps me up at night. It makes my stomach turn.”

Dudley was headed out with Duffy’s mom to search for her associate when she acquired a name from the hospital. Duffy had been discovered hours after overdosing and was nonetheless unconscious since nobody with him had Narcan.  

Duffy was on life help for 3 days earlier than docs declared him brain-dead as a result of an absence of oxygen. He was taken off life help two days later.  

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She mirrored on Duffy’s reluctance to hunt assist. He was afraid he’d be judged for his habit — one thing Dudley considers a illness.

“To treat this as some type of moral failing to me is mind-boggling,” she mentioned. “It’s really a medical issue.”

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“We all need to know what fentanyl is, what it’s in, and educate the people around us because it’s a public health crisis,” Dudley added.

Drug overdose deaths surpassed 100,000 for the primary time in U.S. historical past in 2021, according to the CDC. Over 64,000 of these deaths have been as a result of artificial opioids like fentanyl

“This is coming in over the borders,” Dudley mentioned. “The border policies are failing.”

“And I don’t want to make it political, but it’s just a fact,” she added.

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Dudley has dedicated her time to dismantling stigma surrounding addiction so others struggling might seek help sooner.  

Dudley has devoted her time to dismantling stigma surrounding habit so others struggling may search assist sooner.  
(Courtesy of Gwen Dudley )

‘Heroic in his personal means’

Dudley, aiming to finish the stigma and make folks extra comfy about searching for remedy, now works remotely as a nationwide outreach coordinator for Ascend Restoration Heart in West Palm Seaside. She makes use of TikTok as a platform to boost consciousness in regards to the risks of fentanyl. 

As her son will get older, “I’m going to let him know that his dad was sick,” Dudley mentioned. “That he was heroic in his own way and saved lives, but that he struggled with this illness and explain fentanyl to him.”

Although she nonetheless grieves, Duffy’s loss of life has introduced Dudley a brand new sense of goal. 

“I would thank him for believing in my strength before I did,” she advised Day by day Put up. “And showing me how to help people from the heart and not care what other people think because of the greater good.”

“It’s what allows me now to bring meaning to his death and take that spirit with me and help other people,” Dudley mentioned.

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