Warminster mom fights for methadone legislation

Mar­ti Hot­ten­stein speaks at a meth­adone le­gis­la­tion press con­fer­ence at a SOAR fas­cil­ity in North­east Phil­adel­hia. Mar­ti lost a son to meth­adone a couple of years ago, but still be­lieves that meth­adone, if used ap­pro­pri­atly, helps drug ad­dicts over­come ad­di­citon, Wed­nes­day, Decem­ber 5, 2012, Phil­adelphia, Pa. (Maria Pouch­nikova)

Mar­ti Hot­ten­stein was nat­ur­ally des­pond­ent back on Oct. 22, 2006, when she found her 24-year-old son Karl’s life­less body on the floor of his apart­ment.

Karl Hot­ten­stein had died of a mix of the drugs meth­adone and oxy­codone.

“I didn’t think I was go­ing to breathe much longer,” his moth­er said of the tragedy.

But, in the last six-plus years, after the an­ger sub­sided, she has done plenty to help people like her son, who was seek­ing treat­ment for his ad­dic­tion to oxy­codone.

At the same time, she’s been work­ing to help pre­vent oth­er par­ents from los­ing their chil­dren to drug over­doses.

Hot­ten­stein, of Warmin­ster, foun­ded How to Save a Life Found­a­tion, which helps ad­dicts get in­to treat­ment and re­cov­ery houses. She also works as a con­sult­ant at Soar­Corp Re­cov­ery Cen­ter, an out­pa­tient meth­adone treat­ment fa­cil­ity with of­fices in Chester and at 9150 Mar­shall St. (in the rear of the shop­ping com­plex at Welsh Road and Roosevelt Boulevard).

Last week, she joined state Reps. Gene Di­Gir­o­lamo and John Sabat­ina Jr. and state Sen. Mike Stack at the loc­al Soar­Corp fa­cil­ity to cel­eb­rate pas­sage of Karl’s Law.

The law cre­ates a Meth­adone Death and In­cid­ent Re­view Team with­in the new Pennsylvania De­part­ment of Drug and Al­co­hol Pro­grams. The team will con­sist of state drug and al­co­hol pro­gram of­fi­cials and rep­res­ent­at­ives from a nar­cot­ics treat­ment pro­gram, a li­censed drug and al­co­hol ad­dic­tion pro­gram, law en­force­ment, the med­ic­al com­munity, a dis­trict at­tor­ney, a med­ic­al ex­am­iner or cor­on­er, a fam­ily ad­voc­ate and the pub­lic.

It will in­vest­ig­ate cases where meth­adone was either a primary or sec­ond­ary cause of death and make sure pro­viders are fol­low­ing the law and best prac­tices.

“This will raise the bar of qual­ity care,” Hot­ten­stein said.

Meth­adone is giv­en as part of a treat­ment plan to wean people off drugs. It is also be­ing pre­scribed in grow­ing num­bers by doc­tors to treat pain.

Di­Gir­o­lamo, a Ben­s­alem Re­pub­lic­an, in­tro­duced the bill that passed the le­gis­lature and was signed by Gov. Tom Corbett. Stack in­tro­duced sim­il­ar le­gis­la­tion in the Sen­ate. Sabat­ina co-sponsored the House bill and voted for it in the Ap­pro­pri­ations Com­mit­tee and on fi­nal pas­sage.

“It’s a really good bill,” he said.

Stack de­scribed meth­adone ab­use as a “grave” is­sue, not­ing that the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion have re­por­ted a rising num­ber of deaths at­trib­uted to its mis­use. In fact, the CD­CP has de­scribed it as an “epi­dem­ic.”

Ac­cord­ing to Stack, the best re­cov­ery from drugs is ab­stin­ence. For oth­ers, they need ad­voc­ates like Hot­ten­stein.

“She turned that loss in­to something power­ful and pro­duct­ive and im­port­ant,” he said.

Di­Gir­o­lamo is happy that Gary Ten­nis, a well-re­garded former Phil­adelphia as­sist­ant dis­trict at­tor­ney, will over­see the re­view team as head of the De­part­ment of Drug and Al­co­hol Pro­grams. He is also thank­ful to have met Hot­ten­stein one day while she was lob­by­ing in Har­ris­burg.

“Mar­ti is just an amaz­ing per­son, she really is,” he said.

Hot­ten­stein’s son at­temp­ted to get meth­adone at a hos­pit­al and a drug treat­ment cen­ter but was denied. He even­tu­ally got a dose from an ac­quaint­ance but un­know­ingly took the wrong amount, lead­ing to his death.

Since her son’s death, Hot­ten­stein has be­come an ex­pert in and a sup­port­er of meth­adone. She be­lieves that meth­adone, when taken the prop­er way, can help cure ad­dicts, like it does at Soar­Corp.

The in­di­vidu­al must want to kick the habit and vis­it a set­ting such as Soar­Corp, just like someone at­tend­ing Al­co­hol­ics An­onym­ous and Nar­cot­ics An­onym­ous meet­ings.

“Meth­adone works,” she said.

The found­a­tion was formed on June 21, 2007, which would have been Karl’s 25th birth­day. Mar­ti Hot­ten­stein said the found­a­tion is about giv­ing people re­cov­ery and hope.

In that time, it has as­sisted more than 600 people, and Hot­ten­stein de­lights in see­ing former ad­dicts be­come col­lege gradu­ates and pro­duct­ive, work­ing cit­izens.

“Meth­adone works. We’ve had too many suc­cesses to tell me it doesn’t work,” she said.

Mark Besden, the Soar­Corp re­gion­al pro­ject dir­ect­or, and Robert Stringer, dir­ect­or of the Mar­shall Street fa­cil­ity, were on hand for the ce­re­mony. They presen­ted Hot­ten­stein with a plaque on be­half of staff and pa­tients.

Hot­ten­stein plans to con­tin­ue her work in memory of her son.

“I have a dream that, one day, every hu­man be­ing will get the treat­ment that they de­serve,” she said. ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­ing@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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