A Bridge to Recovery


A Bridge to Recovery

A Grassroots Approach to the Opioid Crisis

By Chris Lyford

September/October 2019


I can’t see anything. Well, anything except the rain, that is. Gallons barrage my tiny Subaru with powerful thwacks, cascading down the windshield and overpowering the frantic, useless sweeping of the wipers. For a few terrifying seconds, I feel the car lurch and slip as I make a hairpin turn through two lush mountainsides, carefully keeping my distance from the blurry red lights of the logging truck directly ahead. Regaining traction, I exhale slowly, cursing under my breath.

“Who needs coffee, right?” I ask my passenger, friend, and photojournalist-for-hire, Craig, who stares passively into his cell phone.

“Yep, weather’s crazy around here,” he says, mostly uninterested.

I’m about 15 minutes outside Craig’s hometown of Charleston, West Virginia, headed for a small addiction treatment clinic in Parkersburg, about an hour away. It’s seven in the morning. My back is killing me, thanks to the pint-sized futon I slept on the night before. I’ve already worked up a sweat, and I’m definitely going to miss breakfast. No Starbucks in these parts.

Why am I here? To tell a story. It’s one you probably already know. Or think you do.

Plenty has been written about the opioid epidemic. About how easily addictive prescription painkillers—most prominently, oxycodone and fentanyl—were pushed by pharmaceutical companies over the last 30 years with reassurances that they were safe, despite being 50 and 100 times stronger than morphine, respectively. You…

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