[Kate] O’Neill thinks the pervasiveness of opioid addiction explains why her sister’s obit moved so many people. “It’s their story, or the story of their neighbor, or the story of their daughter, or the story of their coworker’s daughter,” she tells NPR’s Scott Simon.
Tragically, O’Neill says, the stigma of addiction all too often sets significant barriers to saving lives, even though nearly a third of Americans know someone who is or has been addicted to opioids, according to the American Psychiatric Association.
O’Neill felt she couldn’t pay tribute to her sister without highlighting the realities of an addiction that began at age 16 when Linsenmeir first tried the prescription painkiller OxyContin at a high school party.
“That part of her life, it was so central to who she was as an adult,” she says. “Her addiction didn’t define her, but it did define the way she lived. To not include that would not have been an accurate honoring of who she was.”
“I want people to know that Maddie is one face of that,” she says. “So many people with addiction don’t resemble the photo [of Maddie],” she says. “Maddie didn’t resemble that photo when she was in the throes of her use.”
Amid an opioid crisis that's indiscriminately gripped nearly every corner of the country, what made Madelyn Linsenmeir's story resonate so much? https://t.co/7edQiPxC5m
— NPR (@NPR) October 21, 2018