SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — More people in the United States are now dying from heroin and opioid overdoses than car accidents. That makes it the leading cause of injury-related death in our nation, according to the CDC.

David Stoecker is no stranger to addiction.

“Last year, I lost eight people that I knew here in Springfield, and it’s because of opiates and heroin,” Stoecker said.
Now in long-term recovery, Stoecker is a motivational speaker and Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Greene County. He knows all too well, the dangers that come with addiction.
” I OD’d three different times on opiates,” Stoecker said.

Getting off the powerful drugs isn’t easy. Stoecker said he went into treatment multiple times before staying abstinent.
“That’s one of the issues, a lot of times, that people don’t pour themselves into their recovery like they do their substance abuse,” Stoecker said.

There are about 10 drug treatment facilities in Springfield. Burrell Behavioral Health offers outpatient services for youth and adults, along with residential treatment. The recovery center does about 25 addiction assessments a week. Appointments are booked out at least two months, and referrals from the Emergency Room, from people overdosing, come in at a steady pace, according to Sally Gipson, Vice President of Addiction Services at Burrell Behavioral Health.

“People think they’re just not strong enough, or they just need to quit using, but if you think about it like heart disease or diabetes; what happens is if I start using, if I truly become addicted, I have changed my chemistry – my body chemistry, my brain chemistry,” Gipson said.

If medication is needed for treatment, Burrell Behavioral Health uses Vivitrol. Once injected, it attaches to receptors in the brain and blocks cravings. Even if you take heroin, you won’t feel the high.
“I tell people a lot when they come, that while they’re here, that’s the easiet part of treatment. It doesn’t feel like it initially, but it is. Because what we’re going to have to do is teach you coping skills. Teach you ways for when you feel that craving, you’ll know what to do.”

Those who successfully manage their addiction long term rely on support from sober friends. That’s why Stoecker developed Better Life in Recovery. It’s a way for recovering substance abuse users to give back to their communities by getting involved in it.

“It’s just a way to tell people that are in recovery or people living with substance abuse that we’re proud of you if you’re trying to make a change,” Stoecker said.
A calendar is full of sober events; from 5ks to canoeing, painting playgrounds and paint balling.

Later this year, the non-profit will open the Springfield Recovery Community Center, which is a safe place for people recovering to just hang out or talk to an on-site licensed therapist to get the help they need to stay sober.

“I’m tired of going to funerals,” Stoecker said. “If I can say anything, contact your state reps and tell them this is something you want to get behind.”
The Springfield Recovery Center still has multiple needs to be met before it opens.

Find out how you can help and learn more about Better Life in Recovery by clicking on this link: