HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KSNW) – Opioids can grab a massive hold on your life.

“They don’t just take materialistic things. They take your soul,” said Emma Whittington, a former addict.

It was a reality that Whittington learned firsthand.

“I started dabbling in opioids in about 2014,” she said. “I never thought I’d be an addict.”

A year later, in 2015, Whittington overdosed on fentanyl.

“I put a 100 microgram patch in my mouth, and I was at the zoo, in the Wichita zoo with my children,” she recalled.

Fortunately for her, a sheriff’s deputy was in the parking lot.

“I thankfully got hit with Narcan and brought back to life, but I don’t remember any of that. Then, soon my children were all taken from my custody, and life fell apart,” she said.

Even then, the choice to get clean was a challenge for Whittington.

“I also lost my twin brother to opioids, still used after that. Lost my children, still used. And finally, my husband kicked me out, and I went to Oxford in 2017, and I’ve been clean since,” Whittington said.

She is now four-and-a-half years sober.

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“The gift of recovery is when you share your gift with others,” Whittington believes.

That is what she is doing now. Whittington is a counselor at the Substance Abuse Center of Kansas in Hutchinson.

“I’ve got about 15 clients, and we teach how to identify triggers, coping skills. We don’t just talk about drug use, but we, you know, work on repairing relationships in our lives,” she explained.

Whittington even shares her own story.

“Not to do a scare tactic but to kind of plant a seed in their brains maybe so that they, you know, ever come across any substances in the future, they will remember that it’s very dangerous.”

If you are battling addiction, Whittington wants you to know that help is available.

“Most people do want to help within the community and don’t be ashamed of the stigma. Because, you know, we can’t help if we don’t know what’s going on. So, you know, if you’re struggling, reach out,” she said.