(FOX 2) - A judge in Macomb County recently retired and is now working fulltime to end the Opioid Crisis. Her own daughter experienced this and she is willing to fight until she breaks the stigma.
"I got my wisdom teeth pulled when I was in my early 20's and from there I just kind of struggled with opiates for a number of years. I think it came from a feeling of just liking the feeling that opiates gave me," said Andrea Gerard.
That feeling became all too familiar. Pill by pill, a seemingly endless dark hole that's hard to step out of.
"If there is a quick fix to feel better, people are more likely to take that route than feeling the uncomfortable feeling," Gerard said. "So I struggled for a number of years and eventually got to a point where I was using other substances that were not healthy for me and I went to a very dark place."
A dark place that many American find themselves. In fact, more than 90 percent of heroin addicts say it all started with prescription pills.
For Gerard, a good childhood, solid foundation of parenting and a close knit family couldn't prevent it from happening to her.
"Everyone thinks of the guy under the bridge holding a sign and that's our image of someone who suffers from substance abuse disorder, but it really could be anybody. It could be you or it could be me," said Judge Linda Davis.
Judge Davis retired from 41B District Court in Clinton Township to become Executive Director of Families Against Narcotics, also known as FAN.
Judge Davis worked behind the bench to give people hooked on opioids hope instead of handcuffs. Now, giving hope is her full time job.
"There's so much shame around addiction and I will tell you, the family feels a lot of shame," Judge Davis said. "You know it's very uncomfortable to talk about it, but the person who suffers from this disease, the shame of it all is sometimes what stops them from reaching out to get help."
This Saturday, FAN's Run Out of Town Fundraiser is happening in Fraser. Running drugs out of town is the focus of the fundraiser, but running stigma is equally important.
"It really lifts the stigma and I think that's the whole mission is to lift the stigma because once we start to do that. We really can get the education out there to people," Gerard said. "The dangers of prescription painkillers, the dangers of substances in general, the dangers of using substances as a coping mechanism,"
"Things like icing and rest are really good remedies for pain, but we are a nation where we want instant gratification, so we'll take a pill and then we feel no pain and that's where the problem started," said Judge Davis.