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Crystal Oertle

She shared a stage with President Obama and put a human face on the nation’s dire opioid crisis. Crystal Oertle, an Ohio single mother of two, recalled her soul-crushing journey from pain pills to heroin addiction as she spoke at this year’s National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta. Joining the President on a panel to address the epidemic, Oertle cited her success using Suboxone, a medication that reduces opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms. She’s still working toward long-term recovery and recounts her blessings when she’s feeling vulnerable. “I play the tape all the way through,” Oertle says. “I think about how far I have come and how happy I am and how many people I would be letting down if I started using again. I think about all the negative things that could happen, including death. And, today, I want to live.”

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