Local mother speaks out about son's fatal methadone overdose

THORP, Wis. (WEAU) -- As reinforcement for the country's war on addiction may be on the way a local mother is trying to change the stigma she says is around those battling a drug addiction.

On Capitol Hill the U.S. House is voting on a package of more than two-dozen proposed laws aimed at saving Americans from the opiate epidemic.

Closer to home Penny Nusbaum from Thorp lost her son in 2011 from a prescription methadone overdose meant to treat his addiction.

“He was better a lot of times but then you get immune to it,” said Nusbaum. It was just a big circle. He was addicted big time but to have this happen when he's trying to get help and he's in the medical care, that's what's scary.”

Nusbaum says Trenton was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder at a young age which eventually led doctors to prescribe oxycodone to manage his illness.

“He got addicted through the doctors with all the problems he had and I don't know the answer but I just really think that doctors have to stop prescribing as much,” said Nusbaum.

Trenton went to an Eau Claire hospital for addiction treatment. The hospital referred him to an area methadone clinic. Nusbaum says Trenton eventually got addicted to the methadone and needed treatment for that as well.

She recalled, “He'd say "I don't want to be like this. I don't want to be like this, put me in a hospital." I mean he begged to go to a hospital, he begged for treatment.”

Trenton was able to get clean from drugs but after drinking alcohol one night Trenton returned to the hospital not wanting to fall into his old pattern. Nusbaum says while her son hadn't used any drugs he was prescribed methadone anyway.

“He gets addicted on methadone from the clinic, they send him away to get off the methadone, then they send him back to get on the methadone,” Nusbaum said. “It doesn't make sense.”

Nussbaum says four days later Trenton died of methadone toxicity from the prescription drug given to him by medical professionals but says it felt as if everyone blamed Trenton’s addiction

“It felt like nobody cared, like he was a drug addict, that's how I felt, “ she remembered. “They just treated us like it was Trent's fault and it wasn't.”

While the stigma around drug addiction seems to be lifting a little now Nusbaum says more still needs to be done including cracking down on over-prescribing.

She added, “I don’ t know what bills are on the table or what needs to be done but it's not a problem that can be solved overnight. There's just no way.”

Currently two bills are being considered in the U.S. House to fight addiction from a Michigan congressman.

The first would let in-home hospice workers get rid of patients' pills after they die, current law keeps them in the home.

The other is designed to ensure doctors know a patient's addiction history.

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