March 5, 2019, Nina Feldman - WHYY
When Ronald McAdams got out of prison at age 60, he didn’t want to go back to Philadelphia.
He’d spent more than 30 years trying to kick his opioid addiction, in and out of rehabs and detoxes, and was afraid if he went back he’d get hooked again.
(photo from Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)
He was always wary of buprenorphine because he thought it was just another thing to become dependent on. But this time around, he gave it a try. That was a year ago, and so far, so good: McAdams is going to night school for his high school diploma.
“I always just wanted to do something, to be productive,” said McAdams, now 61. “But when that disease have you, it don’t care, it comes first. I was dry bones, I was walking dead around here. Never know what it was to feel freedom. But I have a sense of freedom now.”
McAdams’ face is one of many in the city’s new campaign to reduce the stigma around buprenorphine, a low-grade opioid considered the gold standard to treat opioid addictions. The $200,000 ad campaign will fund social-media posts, videos and billboards featuring the images and stories of real people who attribute their recovery to buprenorphine. The ads will appear in both Spanish and English, and the campaign is modeled after one that Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley says was successful in New York.