Ducey kicks off drug addiction awareness week

From the lawn of the Arizona State Capitol, recovering heroin addict Matt Lindgren told a packed audience that his addiction to pain medications quickly led to heroin – and ultimately, the loss of his children to the Arizona Department of Child Safety.

“Pills got too costly and heroin was cheaper and easier to find,” he later told Cronkite News. “When using, I would use a gram and a half (of heroin) a day.”

Hosted by Gov. Doug Ducey’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family, the event was as part of the National Red Ribbon Week campaign to draw attention to drug and alcohol addiction.

“We are not changing the conversation, we are taking action,” Ducey said.

Lindgren said he and his wife, Arlene, became addicted together and their lives quickly unraveled.

“She is basically my best friend and what I did, she did. So we both got addicted together,” he said. “It led up to losing our kids, just neglecting our bills, neglecting our household. We have always taken care of our children, but we weren’t as good parents as we could have been.”

Debbie Moak, director of the Office of Youth, Faith and Family, says many of today’s addicts come from stable families and a variety of backgrounds, including more women and more people with higher incomes and college educations.

“I am so optimistic about the future of where Arizona is headed with substance abuse prevention, treatment and recovery programs,” she said.

Lindgren said he and his wife have been sober for more than six months. They both attend parenting, health and substance abuse programs. They are focusing on their 3-month-old newborn and getting their other children back.

“The feeling was emptiness, regret and failure to be there for your children,” Lindgren said.