Hope for those suffering from addiction

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Despite the obstacles, there is hope for those who suffer from addiction to opioids.

8News spoke with Mary Akbar, a recovering addict.

“I started young using heroin,” Akbar said. “I started at the age of 16.”

Akbar is living proof you can beat the heroin habit.

“I have been in recovery now for 19 years,” Akbar said. “Of being clean and sober from heroin addiction.”

Dr. Jim May with Richmond Behavioral Health Authority said that most people with opioid addiction don’t recover in their first try.

“I started young using heroin. I started at the age of 16.”

“The average person takes six or seven attempts in their lifetime before they are ever successful in stopping,” May said.

But he said a stumble is just a bump in the road to recovery. Medically assisted treatment like methadone is usually needed. Both May and Akbar agree true success often requires the addict to make a change in the people and the places they associated with.

“If you continue to look forward and not look backward, you can start your recovery process,” Akbar said.

Ortalay Pope is doing just that.

“This is my last group, so I can move on in my life,” Pope said.

The Richmond mom is clean and just graduated rehab.

“There is hope,” Akbar said. “Just make a phone call.”

If you’re struggling with addiction, please take advantage of the following resources:


  • Half of young people who used heroin got started by abusing prescription opioids.
  • One in fifteen individuals who misuse prescription opioid painkillers will try heroin within 10 years.
  • The number of opioid prescriptions has nearly tripled over the last 25 years, and the United States now accounts for nearly 100 percent of the world’s hydrocodone prescriptions and 81 percent for oxycodone.
  • The number of Americans abusing heroin nearly doubled from 2007 to 2012, with nearly 700,000 now abusing heroin.

In Virginia, abuse and overdose deaths continue to rise:

  • Prescription opioid overdose deaths have risen 44 percent between 2007 and 2015, from 399 deaths to 576.
  • Heroin overdose deaths have risen more than 600 percent between 2010 and 2015, from 48 to 342.
  • Fentanyl deaths have risen 367 percent from 2007 to 2015, from 48 to 224.
  • More than 500 people went to a Virginia emergency room from a heroin overdose in the first four months of 2016, a 250% increase over 2015.

Click here for more from Fighting the Fix.

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