Norwich Alderwoman Philbrick brings opioid addiction home

Norwich – Alderwoman Joanne Philbrick turned a routine grant application measure on Monday’s council agenda into an emotional testimony on the power of opioid addiction and the medical community that has enabled it.

“I am going through opioid withdrawal,” Philbrick said.

She called her recovery “the hardest thing I believe that I have ever, ever gone through.”

The 75-year-old Philbrick fractured her femur in April and said from April 23 through the end of August, “I was fed a constant diet of Oxycodone by doctors, nurses, nursing home staff.” She said she put trust in the professionals to help her with her pain. She said a doctor would write a prescription without asking her level of pain for 84 pills at a time.

“But what they didn’t realize was that they were creating a pain much, much worse,” Philbrick said.

On Aug. 30, she said she was feeling “weird” and went to the emergency room. There, she was shocked to be told she was going through opioid withdrawal. She said the doctor recommended a 30-day methadone treatment, but there were no beds for someone her age.

Philbrick said the doctor told her to “go home and do it cold turkey.”

"I can tell you, from that day to this day, there have been times when I wished and thought that I was going to die. It’s horrible,” she said.

Philbrick said she will continue to have permanent neurological, physical and emotional problems because of the drugs.

“This is an epidemic,” she said, and anyone in the audience at Monday’s council meeting might know someone who could be a drug addict.

“We created this problem, doctors, pharmacies, the doctors,” Philbrick said. “We created it and now we have to fix it.”

The council voted unanimously to authorize City Manager John Salomone to apply for a federal grant of $125,000 per year for five years to prevent and reduce substance abuse among youths and adults.

c.bessette@theday.com

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