by Kyle Beard on Sunday, July 7th, 2019
Bethany Hallam is running for Allegheny County Council where she speaks about issues of air quality, criminal justice reform, and raising minimum wage. This 29 year-old has also spent ten years struggling with opioid addiction. By telling her story to the world about her addiction, she is breaking the stigma of addiction which can inspire other people going into politics or any other field to do the same.
It is common for politicians to talk about opioids in terms of statistics or policies. It is very rare that politicians speak about their own personal struggles with opioids in fears they will not be taken seriously as a politician. Hallam, on the other hand, decided to change all that. Hallam told Bustle that she started taking opioids in high school when she suffered back to back ACL injuries playing lacrosse. While spending two years in recovery from her knee, Hallam developed a dependency towards painkillers that was prescribed to her.
Hallam had plenty of moments where she had bad luck with the law. She plead guilty to a drug-related misdemeanor which led to probation and eventually in the Allegheny County Jail where she detoxed. She had that the withdrawal symptoms was something she “wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.” Hallam explains that this is the reason why many people tend to go back to drugs to avoid these terrible withdrawal symptoms.
Two months after, Hallam felt like she received a wake up call that she could do better things with her life. She credits her recovery to Jack Betkowski, a member of the local Democratic committee and a regular at a restaurant that Hallam used to work at. They would talk politics together and convinced her to run for the local Democratic committee. While she initially hid her opioid use disorder from Betkowski, Hallam eventually opened up to him. When Hallam landed in jail a few months later, Betkowski would write letters to her. Two weeks after Hallam was released from jail, Betkowski took her to the first Women’s March in Pittsburgh and realized her dream to affect change in her current standing on the committee. After volunteering and getting to know voters, Hallam got her bid for Allegheny County Council. Hallam feels fortunate to survive opioid use disorder and hopes to be an inspiration to others.
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